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How Not to Fail at Off Campus Housing

Off Campus | November 15, 2010

Tips:
-Get everything verbally promised by the landlord in writing on your lease.
-Talk to the people who live there now, and ask them about how easygoing or hard to deal with thelandlord is.
-Take the neighborhood into consideration. CollegeAve will be louder and more prone to parties, and the farther you get from campus the more likely you are to live near real families who will resent said partying.
-Buy furniture from the current tenants.  They won’t want to deal with moving it out, so you can get furniture at a great price that’s already sitting in your apartment when you move in.
-Get a signed copy of the lease to hold on to for legal reasons.
-Read the entire lease carefully before you sign it. You never know, your lease could have an obscure no pet clause.
-3 bedroom and 5 bedroom apartments are the easiest to find.
-Your initial deposit only takes the apartment off the market.  It’s not yours until you’ve paid the first and last months’ rent.
-It’s never too soon to start looking for good off campus housing.

A note on subletters:
-You can’t find subletters early enough.  The last thing you want is to pay for a room that no one’s living in.
-Try to find a subletter for winter break; a lot of juniors and sniors get winter internships in Boston and need somewhere to stay.
-If you wait too long to find a subletter, you may have to haggle for rent–and end up paying the difference  yourself.
-Make sure you fill out all the necessary paperwork with your landlord.
-Pick subletters that you trust. You’re legally responsible for them.

Checklist:
-Does the rental date start in June or September?
-Do you have subletters?  Don’t forget about summer subletters.
-Are internet or cable included?
-Are there separate meters for separate apartments?
-Is there free parking?
-Are there laundry machines on the premises?
-Do you have to put down a security deposit?  Is it refundable?
-Can you make any changes to the apartment, like painting or takingdown old wallpaper?
-Do you need insurance?
-Can you have pets?
-Does the rent seem reasonable?  Hint: $700 a month for a run-down apartment on Ossipee is not reasonable.  $700 a month for a newly remodeled apartment on Teele is very reasonable.

Samantha Carle