- Off Campus Housing
- Searching for an Apartment
It is best to start by asking your friends if they know of an opening. Many times, other students are looking for roommates or renters. This “word-of-mouth” method is usually best. The Graduate School website maintains a list of apartments for rent: www.valpo.edu/grad/assets/docs/housing.pdf. The Times and The Torch newspapers also carry “classified” listings of places to rent. The phone book has agencies listed under “Apartments” (in the yellow pages), which rent apartments. Finally, you may see “For Rent” signs on houses near campus.
Choosing an Apartment
When you find some good possibilities, call the landlord or rental agency and ask about the location and cost. If you find the rent to be reasonable, set up an appointment to see the apartment. Ask to see the actual apartment, not a “model”. Is the apartment clean and ready for immediate occupancy? Think of some questions you want to ask ahead of time, such as the cost of utilities and length of lease. Do not sign the lease right away-- give yourself some time to think about it.
Questions to Ask
Here are some questions to ask the landlord and yourself:
- Is the apartment in good condition?
- How are the walls, the floors, the windows?
- Do the appliances work? (Try them to find out.)
- How is the hot water supply?
- Where can you do your laundry?
- What are the average utility costs?
- How many people can live in the apartment?
- Are pets allowed?
- How long is the lease? (Remember, you are responsible even if the lease extends beyond the school year.)
After asking about the length of the lease, find out when the rent is due and how it is to be paid. Ask about the security deposit (usually it is equal to one month’s rent), and find out what it covers and how much you will get back. Ask what the conditions are if you break the lease, or if your landlord breaks the lease. Remember, once you sign the lease, you are responsible for adhering to its terms, so take your time and get advice on it if needed. DO NOT LEASE apartments for friends, as they may back out and you will be stuck with the lease. Again, do not sign the off-campus ‘lease’ before you are ‘released’ from on campus by res-life.
Insurance and Safety
Your landlord will most likely not have insurance to cover your personal belongings. It is not necessary to have renters insurance, but you may want to buy your own policy if you own expensive things (computer equipment, etc). Short of insurance, it is always a good policy to rent an apartment that is kept in good condition and can be secured with good locks. Use common sense in not overloading circuits with too many electrical appliances, turning them off when not in use, and remember to lock your door whenever you leave. It is useful to know your escape route in case of fire, and to keep a list of emergency numbers next to the phone. Prices range from $100-$150 for a year, depending on deductible, which over 12 months, is about $8-$12 a month.
Keep your apartment in good shape, and report any broken features to your manager right away. Try to keep it clean. Any change in tenants should be reported to the landlord, such as when you change roommates or sub-lease the apartment to someone else. Short-term visitors are okay. Be respectful of your neighbor’s rights to quiet, cleanliness, etc. Your American neighbors may not understand some of the things you do or may feel uncomfortable in approaching you. If you are patient and courteous, most problems between neighbors can be easily solved.