Steps to follow when looking at Off Campus Housing

As a student who is considering renting a house or apartment off campus, the Office of Commuter Services and Off Campus Living would like to encourage you think about the three steps of looking at an off campus property and living off campus - Conducting the search, Casing the Joint, and Negotiating the Contract.

Conducting the Search:

STEP 1: Look everywhere for housing. Look in the newspaper classifieds, apartment hunter publications, the Commuter Services website (, and even Craigslist.

STEP 2: Consider how much you can afford to pay. Do not forget to factor in general expenses-water, heat, electric, food, garbage, cable/data, gas to get to and from campus, a parking pass, etc.

Inspecting the Property:

STEP 1: Inspect the property carefully-turn on the faucets in the bathroom, turn on all lights, ask questions about fire safety (are there fire extinguishers, smoke detectors. etc.), how often have items been updated in the house? When was the last time the apartment was painted?, how new are the appliances? How do you contact the landlord if there is a problem? How close is he/she to the apartment if you need them to respond to an emergency? If there's damage in the apartment, ask for it to be fixed prior to moving in and make sure that this is recorded on the lease. If the items are not going to be fixed, make sure to record this information on an apartment/house condition report form (a form can be obtained on the commuter services website at Take pictures or a video for your records! Remember to put everything in writing and send copies to your landlord.

STEP 2: Check out common walls (walls shared with adjoining apartments). The more walls in common, the greater the chance of noise from next door. Also consider a common entrance in terms of how much privacy you may want. Does everyone have a key? How secure are the locks? Check out the properties next door-what do their yards look like?

STEP 3: Ask about amenities such as off-street parking or a garage, a yard, storage, laundry facilities, pool, tennis, gym, etc.

Step 4: NEVER underestimate the importance of talking to the current tenants! How much does the electric run? How responsive is the landlord? What items have they been happy with? What items have they been frustrated with?