Home Away From Home: What Students & Parents Should Look for in Off-Campus Housing

There are a lot of things to consider when looking for student housing, such as leases, landlords and rent cheques. The life of a student can be stressful. Currently, many university and college students who are either moving out of residence or their parents’ home are searching for the perfect off-campus house. There are many factors before making the final decision.                                                                          

Have a plan: When looking for student housing, it is important to come up with a plan. Have an idea of what type of student housing you are looking for, whether it’s an apartment or house. Also consider whom you want to live with. Do you want roommates? If so, how many?

Shop around: Once you’ve settled on the number of roommates you have decided to live with, it would be beneficial to prioritize what needs to be considered:

  • Rent-what is the maximum amount you’re willing to pay?
  • Type of residence-do you want to live in an apartment or a house? Hardwood or carpet? Basement or main floor?
  • Location-would commuting allow your rent to be cheaper? Do you want to be able to wake up 5 minutes before class and not worry about transportation?
  • Laundry: do you want on-site laundry facilities or are you comfortable going to a Laundromat?

Once you have created a list of your wants, consult the rental off-campus listing to see what is available.

Inspection time: it is important to be realistic when looking for off-campus housing. You probably won’t find something as comfortable as your family home with all the extra amenities, but you’ll be able to find housing that will meet your everyday needs while going to university or college.

Here are some important things to consider when looking at off-campus housing:

  • Do the appliances work and are they included in the lease?
  • How’s the water pressure? (Check all taps and the toilet)
  • Are you responsible for heat, electricity and/or hot water?
  • Are the windows and doors well-sealed? (This can affect your heating costs)
  • Who is responsible for maintenance, snow removal, and lawn care?
  • Are there at least two outlets in every room? Do they work?

Signing the Lease: You might need to fill out an application to secure your off- campus housing. Each occupant will need to provide personal references and financial information. This ensures the landlord that rent will be paid and the place won’t be destroyed. Once the application is approved, the lease needs to be understood and signed. Make sure you understand your rights and obligations.

A typical lease should include:

  • Monthly rental amount
  • Term of your commitment (ex. 8 or 12 months)
  • Whether or not a deposit is required
  • Under what conditions and when the deposit will be returned
  • Landlord’s agreement to pay the utilities (heat, electricity, etc. if that’s the agreement)

You should ask for a copy of the lease for your records and all of your roommates should have signed the lease. By signing the lease, this ensures all individuals are responsible for rent and any damages.

Hans Taal

Hans Taal

Sales Representative
CENTURY 21 Miller Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage*
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