Are you ready to get out of the dorm and move into an off-campus apartment? Is this your first time renting an apartment, either by yourself or with roommates? While moving off-campus may be an exciting rite of passage, you want to make sure you get the best apartment for your budget and your situation. You should also carefully inspect the lease to make sure it meets your needs and expectations. With a little bit of research, you'll likely find the perfect apartment for your upcoming year of college. Here are a few tips to help you out before you sign the lease:
Take an inventory of all repairs and get an agreement in writing. Off-campus college housing isn't always kept in the best condition because the tenants usually turn over from year to year. Also, many landlords may assume that an apartment will get damaged anyway from parties so they may not put a lot of effort into repairs and renovations. However, you can ask the landlord to make repairs and improvements so the apartment meets your expectations.
When you tour the apartment, be sure to look for obvious issues, like cracks in the drywall or flooring issues. Also, check the appliances to make sure they work and turn the thermostat to both the heat and cool settings to see if they work. Make a list of any major issues and then ask the landlord to repair them. If he or she agrees, make sure you get their commitment in writing before you sign the lease.
Study nest or party crib? Perhaps the most important issue is determining whether the apartment building fits your lifestyle. Are you a homebody who enjoys quiet evenings? Or are you a party animal who wants to entertain frequently? There's nothing wrong with either, but you could have a big problem on your hands if the building isn't consistent with your preferences.
Ask the landlord about the types of students the building attracts. Are they graduate students who spend a lot of time studying? Or is the building known for its parties? A local realtor can also be a good resource for this information.
Review the lease before you sign. It may sound obvious that you should read the lease carefully, but it's very easy to miss an important point and then get stuck in a difficult situation. One of the biggest points to understand if you're living with roommates is who exactly is responsible for payments. Are you responsible for collecting from your roommates and then paying the landlord? Or is each roommate responsible for their own share?
This is important to know in case a roommate decides to move out. If you're responsible, you may be on the hook to either find a new roommate or cover the former roommate's payment.
A local realtor can help you navigate the off-campus apartments near a university. Contact a realtor or a property management company like Uptown Rental Properties for more information.