Often, college students seeking off campus student housing have little to no experience navigating the world of apartment-hunting, landlords and leases. Here are some suggestions to help with apartment searches particularly for college students.
Tip #1. Read The Lease
College students are notorious for being champions of the art of “skimming” textbooks and articles. How else is it possible to read hundreds of pages each night? While it may seem daunting, your rental contract or lease is one document that you should read through carefully. Unfortunately, some landlords take advantage of the naivety of students. When reading your lease, be sure you are clear about what additional payments are your responsibility. Important factors to consider are whether or not utilities are paid for by the tenants or the landlord. Also, be sure it is included in the lease who is responsible for paying for any repairs that could occur so you know what you are getting yourself into beforehand.
Tip #2. Document Rental Condition
Once you decide on a satisfactory off campus student housing option, make sure to document the condition of the unit as it was before you moved in. This way, any existing damage can not be blamed on you and become your financial burden. After you take the pictures, be sure to immediately send them to your landlord so they are on file. If you take the pictures but do not send them, it would be possible for someone to claim that you took the pictures at a later date. Even though hopefully no issues will arise, in this case it is better to be safe than sorry.
Tip #3. Things To Check For
When searching for off campus student housing, often students forget to check for a few key items during their visit. Make sure that you remember to look for these important things. First of all, just because there are appliances does not mean they work. Make sure to test appliances–flush the toilet, try the faucets, and open the refrigerator. It is not a good sign if the apartment already has appliances that are not working, but if it does it is best to know this beforehand so the landlord could fix it prior to your move in date. Another important thing to look for is signs of mold. Mold in apartments can cause serious health and respiratory problems so you should check ceilings, basements and bathrooms for any signs of mold prior to signing a lease.
This list only represents the tip of the iceberg as far as student housing advice goes. Be sure to leave a comment if you want to join in on the conversation!