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How to find a house to rent in college

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Looking for a rental that’s close to campus can get really stressful early on, since it’s likely that you’re not the only one house-hunting. Expect to have a lot of competition on your search, from freshmen moving away from their homes for the first time to students living on-campus looking for more affordable housing. Though there are numerous options available, you might still be wondering how to find a house to rent in college, ideally one that perfectly balances your wants and needs.

Off-campus housing does have its own set of benefits, like lower costs and having more independence and privacy compared to living on on-campus dorms. It’s even more ideal during these times, as off-campus rentals often have more space to implement basic health safety practices like social distancing.

Whether it’s your first or fourth time looking for a house to rent off-campus, the process should remain the same, or you might end up with a bad renting experience. Here are some things you need to remember when searching for your first or next off-campus rental.

Ask if on-campus housing is required

This applies to those who will be attending college for the first time. While most colleges are open to students living off-campus, others might not be as willing. Make sure that your college does not require you to live on campus before looking at rental properties around the area.

Start with your budget

Living in an off-campus rental can be good practice for your future financial skills. With that said, make sure that the properties you’ll be looking at will fit within your monthly budget. You’ll also need a co-signer, or someone with established credit (perhaps a parent, a close relative, or a friend) who will be assuming liability once you’re unable to pay rent, to help with the security deposit.

Your budget also comes to play here, since you and your co-signer should be able to afford the security deposit and make the payment as soon as possible. Most rental properties will require security deposits within 24 to 48 hours of closing the deal, and you can easily miss out on the ideal space if you fail to make the payment.

Look at more than one property

Don’t be too quick to choose the first property you visit because you might miss out on other spaces with better amenities or more reasonable rental rates. You should also have a backup plan in case the property you want suddenly becomes unavailable. Ideally, you should look at two or three houses to gain a better perspective of what you’re looking for and what you’re able to afford with your budget.

Have a checklist ready

It’s always best to have a checklist with you whenever you’re looking at prospective rental spaces, as it will greatly help you see if they fit your wants and needs. Your checklist should have both questions to ask the owners and a list of all the items you want in a rental space.

Don’t know what to include in your checklist? For starters, here are the questions you’ll want to ask the property owner:

  • What’s included in the rent, and what are the payment terms?
  • Is the neighborhood generally safe?
  • Is parking available, and will it include additional costs?
  • Are there additional costs to use the laundry and the WiFi?
  • Will the rent include other utility fees?
  • Are there any other amenities available, and will they have their own fees?
  • Are pets allowed?
  • How much is the security deposit, and is it refundable?

Apart from these questions, take note of these things as you look around the house:

  • Is the house generally clean and in good condition?
  • Is there sufficient lighting, or are there any broken lights?
  • Can you open the windows in your room?
  • Are the appliances, including heating and air conditioning, up to date and in good working condition?
  • Are the locks working?
  • Do the faucets and shower heads provide enough water pressure?
  • Do all the electrical outlets work?
  • Is the landlord (and the neighbors) friendly?

Use the answers to these questions when comparing one place with another and in making your final decision.

Think about finding a roommate

Renting a house can get really expensive as time goes by, but that doesn’t have to be the case if you have a roommate sharing all the costs. Of course, as with finding an off-campus rental, you need to be careful in choosing a roommate. Keep in mind that this will be the person who will share the responsibility of paying rent in time, so you’ll want a roommate who you can trust with absolute confidence.

Keep these tips in mind, and you’re sure to find an off-campus property that will help you make your college years fun and memorable. When it comes to off-campus rentals and other rental properties, you can never go wrong with rental property management companies.

Sundance Property Management has extensive experience in managing rental apartments and many guides to renting an apartment anywhere in Ohio, Kentucky, South Carolina, Indiana, Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

For more information and other first-time home renter tips, contact 513.489.3363 or info(at)sdpmi(dotted)com.