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Whether you are a first-time renter or have been living in apartment communities for many years, deciding on a new place to live can sometimes be challenging. There are several factors to consider when moving to a new apartment, especially if you are a first-time renter. You may be new to the area, moving away from family or friends, or unsure where the places and services you may need are located, such as the nearest post office, grocery store, or pharmacy. We're here to help with tips and tools you may need to find the right place for you.
As you begin the housing search process, make a list of the pros and cons of the place you are living now. This list should help influence your decisions about the type of housing options and environment you should consider. For example, if you enjoy living close to the places you frequently visit, you may not want to look at housing that is a 30-minute drive from campus. Also, if you like to have a lot of friends over and listen to loud music, a quiet community may not be a good fit for you. It may seem simple, but using this process should help you quickly realize if a neighborhood or community would be a good match for your lifestyle and habits.
Here are some questions you should consider when thinking about your current residence:
- Is it a residential neighborhood?
- Is it near other college students?
- Is the location convenient for services and stores that you regularly use?
- What is the proximity to campus?
Making Your Decision
If your housing search is successful and you think you have found some options that fit your needs, here are a few things to consider before making a final decision
- Try to speak with the current students currently living in the potential neighborhoods or communities you are interested in. They may be able to provide you with information about the community from a student's point of view.
- Call the local police department and ask for any police reports or complaints that have been filed in or around the community. We encourage you to investigate this on your own as some apartment managers or residents may not disclose this type of information.
Also, be sure to consider your total housing cost when making a decision. Which utilities, if any, are included in your rent? How much is your security deposit? Will you need to pay your first and last month's rent up front? Also, some landlords require their tenants to earn two to three times the monthly rent amount. You should be proactive and take copies of the last three months of your pay stubs in case they ask for verification of your monthly wages.
If your off-campus housing search does not satisfy your needs, please know that Residence Life and Housing offers a variety of on-campus residence hall and apartment options that are convenient, affordable, and student-friendly. Our Student Involvement and Leadership and Residence Life and Housing staff can help advise you of your housing options.
If you are a first-time renter, we encourage you to take the renting process one step at a time. Be mindful that since you are a first-time renter, and if you may not have established credit yet, you may need to ask your parents, or someone else who is willing, to cosign for you.
Here are a few steps to consider when looking for an apartment:
- Talk to friends and family members and tap their renting knowledge and experience.
- Look in newspapers, apartment guides, online (including apartmentguide.com and move.com), and other sources for information about your housing options. Typically, you will be able to access information about how much they charge per month, the types of utilities included (i.e., what the apartment community will and will not pay for), and floor plans. Student Involvement and Leadership also maintains an off-campus housing posting board located across from Hospitality Services on the lower level of the Student Union.
- Before you sign any paperwork, check out the various places from top to bottom. Do not be afraid to test the water pressure by turning faucets on and flushing the toilet; look at the window sills for cracks, and check inside cabinets and under the sink.
- Ask the manager what needs to be done to the apartment before moving in and signing any paperwork. Get this in writing; have proof of what the manager is willing to have fixed before your move-in date.
- If the apartment manager does not provide you with a room-by-room list to note the apartment's condition upon your move-in, make one yourself. Sign and date it and have the manager do the same.
As a renter, you have responsibilities beyond examining the apartment before moving in. Consider purchasing a renter’s insurance policy to go along with the new apartment. If your apartment community does not offer one through an insurance company they have contracted with, contact different insurance companies to determine which ones offer the best protection for your needs and budget.
Speak with a representative to determine what coverage is needed to protect electronics, jewelry, and money. If your apartment community offers a policy, you may want to consider increasing the policy amount if it does not adequately cover the value of your electronics or other possessions. Also, if you have paid your Wright State Student Legal Services fee, you may have an attorney review your lease with you before signing it.
Renters Insurance Tips
- Paying one lump sum, instead of monthly payments, could save you money.
- Understand the claims process before you need it.
- Evaluate the true value of your personal possessions.
- Keep your inventory list safe and ready to grab when needed.
- Understand what your coverage actually covers.
- Explore if your policy covers living expenses if you are displaced.
- Research which type of coverage is best for your situation.
Having a roommate is a great way to save money and share the responsibilities that come from renting an apartment. If you have never had a roommate, here are a few tips that can help you with your decision.
First, identify your living and study habits. These can be identified through series of questions, some of which may be easy to answer and others that may require some thought.
- When do you normally get up in the morning and go to bed during the week and on the weekends?
- Do you watch a lot of television, what programs? How about listening to music, what music? These questions are important if you move in with someone else whose viewing/listening preferences are different from yours.
- Are you an organized person or do you prefer to pick up your belongings only when necessary?
- Do you have expectations that the apartment will be clean and immaculate or that it looks like someone actually lives there?
- How do you respond to having many people in the apartment or even having one or two friends over regularly?
- How do you feel about someone who may not be as active as you? For example, are you an active person, or are you more likely to stay at home and relax when you have free time?
- Are you someone who is constantly on the go, whether it is going to school, work, or visiting friends and family?
- What is your attitude about sharing possessions, whether clothes, electronic equipment, music, etc.?
- Do you take your studies seriously?
- How often and for what length of time do you typically study per day?
- When do you like to study—early morning, middle of the day, evening, or late at night?
- Do you have to study with background noise or do you need a quiet space to concentrate?
- Where do you study the most: at school or at home (in your bedroom, kitchen, or living room)?
You can ask these questions when you consider having someone move in with you; for example, if you already had a roommate, but he or she moved out, and you are looking for someone new to take over the available bedroom. It is imperative to ask these questions if you are moving in with someone else. There is nothing worse than moving in with someone or have someone move in with you only to find out that you are incompatible because your study habits and/or lifestyle are not similar. Another word of caution is necessary if you choose to move in with, or rent to, someone you have never met before. When you’d like to have a roommate, get to know the individual beyond your interview process.
After choosing a roommate or having found a place to live with someone else, develop roommate guidelines. The more descriptive the guidelines, the more likely it will help eliminate confusion about when and what the two of you have decided before moving in together. Respect the rules that have been laid down! As roommates, you will have to live together for the next several months.
Once you and/or your roommates have moved into the apartment, remember that you are not the only ones with legal rights. The landlord maintains certain rights of their own. This handbook does not contain all of the landlord’s rights; however, you can contact Student Legal Services or a housing advocate office for further information about landlord rights.
Some of the most important landlord rights to remember are:
- The landlord has the right to enter your apartment to fix repairs provided they give a 24-hour notice; this is not applicable in the case of an emergency.
- The landlord has the right to evict a person based on several circumstances, such as, but not limited to:
- If the tenant had not paid rent when due or violated major clauses in the lease.
- If the tenant does not report repairs that affect the health and safety of other tenants.
- If the tenant refuses the landlord the right to enter the apartment.
This is not a complete list; however, it covers some of the more common reasons a landlord would have a right to evict a tenant.
The university highly encourages consultation with your on-campus attorneys, provided by Student Legal Services, if any seems out of the ordinary or if you are uncomfortable with the terms imposed by the landlord.
When you first move in with your college roommate (in either an apartment or in the residence community), you may want—or have—to set up a roommate agreement or roommate contract.
While not usually legally binding, roommate agreements are a great way to make sure you and your college roommate are on the same page about the everyday details that must be managed when you live with someone else. While they may seem like a pain to put together, roommate agreements are a smart idea.
There are a variety of ways you can approach a roommate agreement. Many agreements come as a template and can provide you with general areas and suggested rules. In general, though, you should definitely cover the following topics:
- General items. (such as computers, printers, tablets, gaming consoles, etc.). Is it okay to use each other's stuff? If so, are some things off-limits? What happens if something breaks? If both people are using the same printer, for example, who pays to replace the paper? The ink cartridges? What happens if something gets broken or stolen on somebody else's watch?
- Schedules. What are your schedules like? Is one person a night owl? An early bird? Do you want some quiet time in the morning or when you get done with class after lunch, dinner, or before bedtime? Do you want time to hang out with friends in the room?
- Study time. When does each person study? How do they study (quietly? with music? with the TV on?)? Alone? With headphones? With people in the room? What does each person need to make sure they get adequate study time and keep up in their classes?
- Private time. Let's be honest: It's college. You and/or your roommate might very well be dating someone and may want time alone with him or her. What's the deal with getting time alone in the room? How much is okay? How much is advance notice needed? Are there times when it's not okay (like finals week)? How will you let each other know when not to interrupt?
- Borrowing/Taking/Replacing. It's practically inevitable not to borrow or take something from your roommate over the course of the year. So who pays for it? Are there rules about borrowing/taking, e.g., it's okay to eat some of my food as long as you leave some for me? Will you have to replace something that you’ve taken or eaten within a certain amount of time? Will there be rules again using or eating someone’s items or food?
- Space. Think—and talk—about space. Do you want your roommate's friends hanging out on your bed while you're gone? At your desk? Do you like your space neat? Clean or Messy? How would you feel if your roommate's clothes started sneaking over to your side of the room? What areas of the space will be kept clean and neat, and by whom, when? It’s best to talk about this in advance rather than waiting for your roommate to do something you don't like -- but that you never talked about.
- Visitors. When is it okay to have people hanging out in the room? People staying over? How many people are okay? Who needs what when it comes to visitors, e.g., is a quiet study group okay late at night or should no one be allowed in the room after, say 1 a.m.?
- Noise. Do both of you like the default to be quiet in the room? Music? The TV on as background? What do you need to study? What do you need to sleep? Can someone use earplugs or headphones? How much noise is too much?
- Food. Can you eat each other's food? Will you share? If so, who buys what? What happens if someone eats the last of an item? What happens if the fridge turns into a science project; who cleans it out? What kinds of food are okay to keep in the room?
- Alcohol. Nobody under 21! That’s the rule—and the law. If you're under 21 and get caught with alcohol in the room, there can be problems. If you're over 21, who purchases the alcohol? How do you feel about keeping alcohol in the room? When, if at all, is it okay to have people drinking alcohol in the room?
- Clothes. Can you borrow each other's clothes? How much notice is needed? Who has to wash them or dry clean them? How often can you borrow things? What kinds of things can't be borrowed?
If you and your roommate can't quite figure out where to get started or how to come to an agreement on many of these things, don't be afraid to talk to Student Legal Services to make sure that things are clear from the beginning. After all, it's much easier to say, "You ate all my cereal! The rule is you have to replace it within two days, so I'm expecting some serious Frosted Flakes back on my desk by Thursday morning!" with a smile than to come home and get mad over your roommate's decision to do something you don't like—but that you never talked about.