A College Student's Complete Guide to Finding & Leasing Off-Campus Housing
Fastweb has you covered with this all-inclusive college housing and apartment guide to help you through the process, from start to finish.
July 07, 2015
When looking for off-campus housing, there are questions you need to be sure to ask, some things you’re going to need to look out for during tours and it’s always smart to learn how to become a savvy renter.
If you’re not sure where to begin – don’t worry! Fastweb has you covered with this all-inclusive college housing and apartment guide to help you through the process, from start to finish.
We’ve even given you areas to check off, fill in pricing and check yes or no so you can take this guide along to remember all of the information you need!
Also, remember, it’s never a bad idea to ask for help with the process if you need it!
Follow the below lists to guide you through the process with questions, tips on what to look for during housing tours and what to look for in leasing agreements.
• What’s included in the rent?
• Are any utilities included within the rent?
• What’s the typical monthly cost of each of the utilities?
Water: $ _____ . _____
Heat: $ _____ . _____
Electricity: $ _____ . _____
Gas: $ _____ . _____
• Can you pro-rate* the rent for scaled bedroom sizing?
*For different bedroom sizes, ask for pro-rated rent so that the rent is scaled and those living in smaller bedrooms pay less rent.
• Are pets allowed? Y / N
• If so, is there an additional fee? Y / N
• Is the fee the same for both dogs and cats? Y / N
• What is the fee to have a dog? $ _____ . _____
• What is the fee to have a cat? $ _____ . _____
Questions Regarding Amenities
• Does the house/apartment have air conditioning? Y / N
• What is the laundry situation?
• Where are the machines located?
• Are they shared by the entire building? Y / N
• Is there a cost to use them? If so, what is the cost? $ _____ . _____
• Is the cost for both the washer and the dryer? Y / N (Keep in mind that this can become expensive!)
• Is parking available? Y / N
• If yes, is there an additional cost? Y / N
• What is the additional cost? $ _____ . _____ per month
During a walk through, check:
Is there a good amount of natural light? You don’t want your electrical bill to be sky-high!
Do they work properly? Would you feel safe being alone at night?
Are they old or drafty? This may affect the temperature inside!
Are they leaky or rusty?
Are they functioning properly?
Shower’s water pressure
Never underestimate great water pressure in the shower!
Tile and grout
Is the bathroom tile and grout well-kept or scummy?
Walls for marks, holes, scratches, patches, etc.
Keep note if the walls are well taken care of because it reflects on the landlord.
Can you live with the size of the closet?
Pantry and cupboard sizes
Do you have enough storage space?
Is the carpeting/flooring clean?
Are the appliances up to date or will you be living in the Stone Age?
Front landscape and Entryway
Are they well-maintained? This may give you a good idea of what the landlord and/or neighbors are like.
Check the location and number of outlets, noting both. Also, check to see if the outlets work! It can certainly help with your furniture planning.
Do the systems work properly?
Do the neighbors seem friendly, courteous, trustworthy and easy to get along with?
What are your initial impressions of the landlord? Does he or she seem trustworthy? What about his or her relationship with the neighbors – does it seem positive?
Safety of the Location –
Find out the crime statistics in the area by contacting the local police department. They’ll be able to give you information on the area and recommend whether or not they feel it’s safe for students.
What’s the proximity to the nearest grocery store? What about the nearest coffee shop? Consider what you’d like to be nearby and then map out if the places are located within the area. It may help you decide if the location is right for you.
Can you get to classes, the library and other campus locations quickly and easily when you need to?
Reasonable Rent Rates in the Area Research what typical rent rates within the area are. You can research this by asking around locally, researching online at either apartment websites or rent comparison websites or by calling your local police station.
Questions Concerning Leasing Fees
• Are there additional fees for any of the following?
—Signing the lease at a later date Y / N
—Administration processing fees (landlords will charge this to process forms) Y / N
—Subleasing fees Y / N
—Approval fees Y / N
Believe it or not, realtors and landlords will tack on fees wherever they can get away with it! Double check that these fees aren’t going to be on your bill because many of them are negotiable as long as you ask before they are charged.
• Always trust your initial instincts!
If something doesn’t seem right or you don’t trust the landlord, go with your gut. It’s usually (or, at the very least, more often than not, correct).
• See before you sign.
Never sign a lease without visiting the property first. Students often regret doing so because the property is misrepresented either online, in writing or over the telephone. If for some reason you are not able to visit, have a friend or parent do so on your behalf before you sign.
• Your school may have resources, too.
Some schools have lists of approved landlords, property management companies or properties that previous students have rented. Check with your college’s student affairs office to see which resources they have available.
• Consider renter’s insurance.
Purchasing renter’s insurance can safeguard you just in case the unthinkable happens. It’s certainly up to you but it’s definitely worth considering!
• Read the lease.
The realtor or landlord may be in a rush to sign you but don’t let them! Take your time reading over the details and, if you need help understanding, do not be afraid to ask for help.
Look for details in the agreement such as:
Do you have the option to renew your lease? Y / N
For instance, you don’t want you landlord renting to someone else if you want to stay!
Are there options to sublease? Y / N
If not, will you or a guarantor (usually a parent/guardian) be charged the full amount?
For example, what if you’d like to live at home for the summer to save money? Or, perhaps you want to study abroad for a semester? You don’t want to get stuck paying the rent somewhere you’re not even living!
Questions Pertaining Pre-Move In Cleaning
• Will the apartment/house be thoroughly cleaned before new tenants move in? If so, what does a deep cleaning entail? Does it include the following areas:
Tile and Grout
Note: Often times, cleaning is included in the rent, however, landlords do not follow the protocol unless renters ask for it! If you’re paying for a service, you should be receiving it. Ensure that you’re also making sure that you’ll be getting a thorough cleaning and that they will be cleaning all of the above areas!
• Fill out evaluation forms.
When you sign the lease, make note of everything (and we mean everything) that is already damaged within the apartment on an evaluation form when you move in so that you aren’t charged when you move out. Once you make the list, sign and date it. Give a copy to your landlord (keeping a copy for yourself for reference).
Need money to pay for college?
Every semester, Fastweb helps thousands of students pay for school by matching them to scholarships, grants and awards for which they actually qualify. Sign up today to get started. You'll find scholarships like the $2,000 "No Essay" Scholarship from Niche, a scholarship open to all U.S. students and those planning on enrolling within 12 months, and high value scholarships like Opinion Outpost $10,000 Quarterly Prize.