Negotiate the Deal

STEP 1: If you find an apartment or house you love but is a stretch financially, ask if there are responsibilities you can take on to lower your rent, such as cutting the lawn, sweeping common areas or taking deliveries. Or, if you find a great apartment but it lacks services such as utilities, laundry facilities, cable TV and Internet access, ask the landlord to throw some in at no charge. Many newer buildings will. Or offer to sign a longer-term lease or give a higher security deposit in exchange for more services.

STEP 2: Examine the lease in detail: How much notice is required prior to moving? How large of a deposit do you have to make? When you move out, how much cleaning is required in order to get your full deposit back? Be advised that some agreements require first and last months' rent plus a security deposit. What type of lease do you have? Is the lease month to month? 6- or 12-month period? Or a 10 month lease or 12 month lease? If it is a 12 month lease, can you have someone sublet for the summer months? If a roommate drops out of his or her lease, will you be responsible for the rent?

STEP 3: Find out what kinds of cosmetic changes you can make, such as painting walls, or structural changes, such as adding shelving. Do not make any of these changes without permission from the landlord because you could lose your deposit at the end of your lease.

STEP 4: Consider buying renter?s insurance-it is not the landlord?s responsibility to cover the loss of your belongs in case of fire, water damage, theft, etc. You may also want to ask your parents if the property would be covered under their homeowner?s policy.

Living off campus can be a rewarding and exciting experience provided you do your homework and plan ahead. If you have any questions about these steps or tips, or you would like to talk to someone about signing a lease to live off campus, please contact Angie Kneflin in Commuter Services and Off Campus Living at 513-745-4998 or by e-mail at You can also call the Office of Commuter Services and Off Campus Living at 513-745-3824.