Still looking for housing? Tips for finding a great place
By Evanne Montoya
Your student wants to live off campus but hasn’t found an apartment yet. It’s not too late! Here’s how to jump start the housing search process.
Where to look
Our website, universityparent.com
Find your student’s school and check the apartments page. There may be openings at some of the housing options listed there.
Encourage your student to talk to other students. Chances are his chemistry lab partner’s roommate’s best friend has a house with room for one more. Are any of his friends studying abroad this fall? One may welcome a chance to sublease his room for a little travel money.
Bulletin boards and posting sites
Does your student’s university have a private Facebook group or internal posting site? He can check for students seeking roommates, or send out a general inquiry to other students. This might be a safer bet than sites open to the general public. If your student looks for housing on the internet, see “avoid scams” below!
University Housing Services
Encourage your student to talk to his school’s Housing Services Office directly. They may curate a list of area apartments, give area-specific suggestions for apartment hunting, or even highlight last-minute openings on campus. While living on campus may not be his first choice, it can provide a lovely lesson about starting early for best results.
Persistence is key. Keep looking, even in places where you’ve struck out before. Apartments may not require tenants to give more than a month’s notice, so your student should get on waiting lists and call often to check for openings.
Your student is eager to find a place but he still needs to be careful and follow a few basic safety rules.
- Avoid scams. If your student finds a place over the internet, encourage him to follow a simple rule: Do not send money, give out personal financial information, or sign a lease until you’ve verified in person that it’s a legitimate offer. He should either meet the landlord in person at the property (preferably with a friend, not alone) or send a friend in his place if he can’t go himself. Please see the Federal Trade Commission’s page for information on how to spot a rental housing scam.
- Check out subletting situations thoroughly. Will your student be living with people he doesn’t know? Encourage him to discuss house rules with them. Has the landlord approved the sublease? If not, your student could be put in an awkward situation down the road. What are the exact agreements regarding a damage deposit, paying rent, and covering utilities? Your student, the person who is subletting the space to him, and the landlord should all sign a contract outlining important details. See an example for each state here.
- Know and document the terms. No matter where your student ends up, make sure key details such as length of lease, deposit amount plus requirements to recover it at the end of the year, and utilities inclusion are clear and in writing. Your student should take photos upon move in, get any special permissions in writing and signed by the landlord, and keep all correspondence with the landlord in a safe place.
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