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Before Classes Start - Brush Up on the Do’s and Don’ts of Renting Off-Campus!

Before Classes Start - Brush Up on the Do’s and Don’ts of Renting Off-Campus!

OK, college students… after spending the summer working back in your hometown and living under your parents’ roof again, you may be itching to get back to the freedom you have at college. But, let’s not forget that dorm life has got its own set of rules, too. The obvious solution? Renting an off-campus apartment for the upcoming semester!

But, don’t start the pre-semester party just yet. In addition to the policies and procedures you agreed to in your lease, regarding noise, pets and, even parties, there are a few other rental do’s and don’ts that you should follow this semester:

Do tour through more than one apartment before signing a lease. Getting your own place for the semester is exciting stuff, but don’t just settle on the first off-campus housing option you go through. Make it a rule to see at least three places before settling on your home for the next few semesters.

Do ask about other costs. Just because an apartment is listed for X amount of rent each month, does not mean that rent is the only cost involved. Be sure to ask your prospective landlord about utility, cable and Internet costs, along with any other routine charges you can expect to pay.

Don’t rent an apartment that you can’t afford. Ah yes, extra costs… which brings us to our next point… if you have X amount to spend on your housing for the school year, don’t select a place that uses 99.9% of that amount! You’ll likely be busy enough worrying about exams and papers this semester; don’t make your finances an additional worrying point.

Do read the entire lease agreement before signing on the dotted line. Though you may not exactly feel like doing your homework before the semester begins, it is important to read your lease agreement before you sign. Why? You’ll want to know your landlord’s expectations before move-in day!

Don’t forget the walkthrough. Just because you fell in love with a rental property when you toured through it late last semester, does not mean that you should forego the pre-move-in walkthrough. To avoid any charges upon moving out, take note of any obvious pre-existing wear and tear. The last thing you want to do is pay for a previous tenant’s carelessness.

Do choose your roommates wisely. If you’re not planning to live on your own this semester, take the time to carefully select your future roommates. You may not want to choose a roommate that is exactly like you, but you will want one that can complement your living habits. Though it is easy to envision all the fun you’ll have together, you also want to select someone who is able to accept some responsibility, too.

Do purchase rental insurance. It doesn’t matter what side of campus you live on or how long you’ve known your chosen roommates. You cannot control Mother Nature or any other unforeseen things that may cause you to suffer a loss in your college rental. Do yourself a favor and protect your things by buying a low-cost rental insurance policy before you move in.

Don’t sign up for every credit card offered on campus. For some reason, college students have an “Ask Me to Apply” sign stamped on their foreheads when it comes to credit cards. So, when creditors camp out in the student union this year, just say “no!” at least some of the time. Of course, establishing credit is a good thing, but racking up credit card debt to fund your college experience is a slippery slope!

Do learn to budget and track spending. Instead of automatically beginning your credit history in college, begin to hone your budgeting skills! Sure, you’ll be busy studying your course material; but, make a little time to note your spending habits as well!

Do consider your future. As if going to college wasn’t future-preparation-enough, right? Use your college rental experience to prepare you for your first big future home purchase. Begin a great rental record from the start and you’ll have instant references when it comes time to apply for your first mortgage!  

Now that you’ve selected your academic-year rental unit and signed on the dotted line, all that is left is moving in and making your college digs as comfortable as can be. So, unpack, do a little decorating and relax… that 8 a.m. class is coming soon!