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Off-Campus Housing

Off-Campus Rental Guide

Greetings from the Office of Residential Life! As you embark on the next steps to becoming independent and living off-campus, we hope that you utilize this guide for information about renting and ways to protect yourself as a tenant. Additionally, you will find common guidelines on how to be a good neighbor.

Steps to Renting Off-Campus

Make sure you and your potential roommates have been approved to live off-campus.

  • Students must have lived in on-campus housing for 6 semesters BEFORE the start of that Fall semester or reach 22 years of age before September 1st of that academic year. If you are not sure if you qualify, reach out to the Office of Residential Life for confirmation at reslife@valpo.edu or 219-464-5413.
  • You and your potential roommates need to complete a Housing Cancellation Form during the Room Selection Process. Make sure to do this prior to the deadline to avoid any unnecessary fees. 

Start researching possible rental properties.

  • In addition to determining your ideal monthly rent, you’ll need to know your monthly budget for utilities including water, trash, electricity/gas, internet, and cable.
    • It is likely that your potential landlord will have multiple properties and will be able to show you houses and apartments that fit for you and your roommates’ situation.
    • Make sure each of your roommates is comfortable with the budget and with the space you pick prior to signing a lease or contract. 
  • Contact landlords and set up appointments to view properties
  • Unsure where to start looking? Visit our Off-Campus Listings below.

Research utility prices if utilities are not included in your monthly rent.

  • Did you know you can call NIPSCO, which is responsible for your electricity/gas, and get an average cost for a property? All you have to do is call them and provide the address. This can also be done for Valparaiso City Utilities, which is responsible for your trash and water.
    • NIPSCO can be reached at  1-800-464-7726 or online.
    • Valparaiso City Utilities can be reached at 219-462-6174 or online.

Ask questions of your potential landlord.

Frequently asked questions

  • What is covered in the monthly rent?
  • Who is responsible for maintenance and how is a maintenance request submitted?
  • What is the process if there is a maintenance emergency (ie., burst pipe)?
  • Who is responsible for lawn care or snow removal?
  • Is the property furnished in any way?
  • What is the deposit amount?
  • Do you allow subleases?
  • Can you have pets on the property and if so, what kind and are there any additional fees? 
  • What dates does the lease cover? 
    • If you will be graduating in May, seriously think about a lease that extends through the summer. Do you plan or want to be in Valpo after graduation, or will you be pursuing a job elsewhere? Know that if subletting is allowed, it most likely will be your responsibility to find a subleaser, and if not, you will be responsible for paying full rent, regardless of whether or not you live there. 
  • What happens if I need to unexpectedly cancel my lease? 
    • Unexpected events such as Covid may cause you to feel the need to cancel. Is there a clause for a natural disaster? Be prepared to pay your contracted payment IN FULL, unless there is a specific clause in your lease that says differently.
  • If your potential landlord is unresponsive to your questions as a potential tenant, think about if that’s the kind of response you would want when you have a maintenance request or emergency.

Read your lease COMPLETELY. Your lease covers everything from payment due dates to when and where garbage is collected. Once you sign, you will each have a copy of the lease. Keep an extra copy in an easy to find place so you can reference it whenever needed.

  • If any changes are made to your lease, ensure they’re made in writing and you have an extra copy or two you can then refer to.

Determine how you and your roommates will pay the bills.

  • Questions to ask one another:
    • How do we want to pay our rent?
    • Who will be in charge of the bills?
    • How will we keep track of bills and payment dates?
    • What is the most effective way to pay one another back?
      • Checks? Apps such as Venmo, Paypal, Splitwise?

When you move in, you and your landlord should complete a walk-through of your property and note any existing damages or issues for your lease file.

  • You should make sure all damages and issues are thoroughly explained. It is recommended to take pictures as well.  Pictures could be used as proof of existing damages/issues in the event your landlord charges you for them upon your departure. This could help you receive the full amount of your safety deposit back.

Renter’s Insurance

  • It may be helpful to check if your or your parents’ current insurance plan covers your stay off-campus. If not, purchasing renter’s insurance may be an additional reassurance in protecting your personal property. 

Safety Tips

  • Check the fire equipment in the apartment regularly (smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, etc.)
  • Make an evacuation/emergency-preparedness plan with your roommates in the event of emergency situations (fire, tornado, etc.)
  • If you’re interested in registering to receive text messages for community/safety alerts, please see here.

Transportation

  • As a student of VU, you’ll still have free access to the VLine. Check the VLine routes here
  • The city of Valparaiso also offers a variety of transportation options, including South Shore Connect and ChicaGO Dash.
    • Visit here for more information.
  • Your landlord will contact you close to your lease end date regarding if you will be signing another lease. At this time, they may ask for a deadline of your decision, which is typically at least 30 days before your lease end date.
  • If you are choosing to move out at the end of your lease, you and your roommates will need to arrange a walk-through of the space with your landlord.
  • Discuss with your landlord what types of “damages” or other expenses could be paid for with your deposit.
    • Often carpets must be cleaned once you move out. Some residents will make arrangements and pay out of pocket to have this done. In other cases, landlords will make these arrangements and take the expense out of your deposit.
  • During your final walk through, your landlord will make note of any damages, but final costs are often not known until the damage is addressed due to the prices of the item and/or labor.
  • Any part of your safety deposit that can be returned after damages are assessed should be returned to you/your roommates within 45 days of moving out.
  • Please note, that there may not be an opportunity to appeal your damages depending on your landlord and/or lease agreement.
  • The Center for Student Involvement (Harre Union, Suite 230) is a lounge that you can utilize to study, use the computers, and relax in between classes. This space additionally has a kitchen where you can store your meals, have access to a microwave, and socialize with other commuter students throughout your day.
  • Dining Services offers non-residential meal plans you can utilize for days that you will be on campus and need to grab a bite to eat. Additional information can be found at www.valpo.edu/dining.

Living Off-Campus

Be Welcoming

  • Get to know your neighbors! The better you know your neighbors, the easier it is for you to ask questions and address any issues you might be having. Neighbors who are non-students can be a great resource to you.

Ask Questions

  • Make an effort to find out how things are done in your neighborhood or apartment complex. Ask your landlord or neighbors: Where is it okay to place my garbage? Where can I dispose of large items? Whose responsibility is the yard?

Be Respectful

  • Park only where it is legal, safe, and considerate—don’t park on your own or anyone else’s lawn or block anyone’s driveway. It’s also recommended that you and your roommates keep up yard and house appearances.
  • It is always important to be conscious of those around you, especially if your neighbors are not students. When having parties, let your neighbors know first and keep the noise level down past 11:00pm. This may also avoid an unwanted visit from the police due to noise complaints. Your neighbors, even on weekend nights, still deserve a good night’s sleep so it is important that you respect their requests in planning your party.

Common Nuisance Law

  • What is it?
    • A person can have criminal charges brought against them for visiting or maintaining a place of common nuisance.
    • A place of common nuisance is defined as a building, structure, vehicle or other place that is used by any person to unlawfully use a controlled substance
  • What does that mean?
    • Houses become a common nuisance when there have been repeated reports of unlawful use of controlled substances.  The Common Nuisance ordinance does not go away when students move out each year, as it stays with the property.
    • This means a person can be criminally charged for merely being present when a controlled substance is being used, or who allows a controlled substance to be used in their home or vehicle.

Know your guest list

  • Set up an invite list with your roommates so you know who is coming. If you are serving alcohol, be sure your guests are 21 & older. Do not invite anyone who is known to cause problems while intoxicated.
  • Communicate with all of your guests regarding where to park to ensure they don’t take spaces meant for other tenants of your building. 

Set a Plan

  • It is important to determine who will be sober for the party because they will be handling any conflicts as they arise.
  • Have snacks and nonalcoholic beverages available for guests.
  • Put away all breakables and valuables and set boundaries with guests as to which rooms they can and can’t be in.
  • Know who to contact in the case of an emergency.

Be Aware

  • While the party is going on, make sure everything is going smoothly and that no guests are irresponsibly consuming alcohol.
  • Ensure none of your guests are causing any damage to your property. 
  • Pay attention to the volume level to avoid disrupting your neighbors. 
  • If at any point there is an emergency, please call 911! 
  • Indiana’s Lifeline Law provides an individual with immunity from arrest for certain alcohol offenses if they are reporting a medical emergency, a victim of sexual assault, or witnessing/reporting a crime. 

REMEMBER: At the end of the day, you are entirely responsible for all of your guests, their safety, and their actions. 

  • Emergency: 911
  • Valparaiso University Police Department (VUPD): (219) 464-5430
  • Valparaiso University Police Department (VUPD) (Non-emergency): (219) 462-0717
  • Office of Alcohol & Drug Education: 219-464-6820
  • Valparaiso University Transportation Services: 219-464-6040
  • Office of Residential Life: 219-464-5256

Off-Campus Rental Listings

Valparaiso University does not endorse any property as advertised on the “Off-Campus Rental Listing” provided by Residential Life, nor do we assume any responsibility for a renter’s dissatisfaction with and/or contractual dispute between the renter and the property/property owner. We recommend potential renters contact the property owner, investigate the property, and read and review the lease thoroughly before obligating themselves.

To submit a property for listing, please contact Residential Life at reslife@valpo.edu or 219.464.5413.

To download a copy of the current Off-Campus Rental Listing, Click Here (PDF) (last updated September 10, 2021).