Prep for Success Living Off-Campus

February 23, 2024


In preparation for the Off-Campus Housing Fair, consider these safety-minded tips before signing a lease. 

Before the event

  • Review listings of currently available places and research by reading reviews and asking around. Note that not all properties listed may be at the event.
  • Visit Student Legal Service for renter’s resources, lease reviews, and to get advice on any anxieties you have throughout your housing process.
  • Canvas Google Maps for bus stops and walking times from the property to the U, your job, and other interests.
  • Create a list of your safety non-negotiables, including
    • Night-time lighting
    • Parking
    • Building condition

Common terms to know

  • Amenities - benefits the property offers, usually at no additional cost, like fitness centers, lounge areas, and in-unit laundry.
  • Lease - a binding legal contract between you and the property owner. It can be negotiated for you and the property owner’s comfort.
  • Security Deposit - amount of money equal to not more than the cost of one month’s rent. It is returned to you within 30 days of moving out or applied to charges for damages.
  • Sublet - when an apartment is rented before the end of the original tenant's lease to someone for the remainder of the lease term. Most leases require the landlord’s permission to sublet an apartment.
  • Utilities - resources like electricity, gas, and water. If the utility is not included in the rent, you will need to set up services with the utility in your name.

Chatting with rental properties

  • Ask questions. Nothing is off limits - this is your new home we’re talking about! Some you can ask include 
    • What safety features does your property have?
    • How accessible is biking/bus/light rail/ to campus? To stores and other entertainment? 
    • Are you part of the University’s Off-Campus Housing Risk Reduction Program?
    • How would you describe the neighborhood?
  • Set up time to visit the property or see the most recent photos and videos. Don’t just take someone’s word that it “looks good.”   

When you get home

  • Solidify your game plan. As the semester progresses, others will be signing and options become slim.
  • Make sure you’re comfortable with who you plan to live with. You don’t want to have to find new accommodations in the middle of a semester.
  • If you’ve made a decision, congrats! When you're ready to sign, carefully read and understand all agreements and make sure the rental contract is in writing.

Categories: Events

Tags: Public Safety