What you should do before you move off campus
Begin looking for your apartment approximately a semester before you want to move off campus. Usually January-March is a good time to search for housing for the fall semester. Know your budget, know how to read a lease, know how to inspect a unit, and know your rights and responsibilities as a tenant. Look at many housing units. Talk with the landlord, ask questions, and make good inspections of the units as you walk through them. Be informed!! Compare types of accomodations and their costs.
Before you agree to or sign a lease
Be sure all rental terms, conditions, and charges are described in the lease. During the lease term the landlord cannot add a charge for the use of facilities that were available at no cost when the lease was signed. Know what to expect of you in terms of pre-payments (i.e. security deposit, key deposit)
Calculate aniticipated cost of utilities based on actual usage. You must be able to pay the total cost of rent plus utilities. Check the apartment to ensure that it is in acceptable condition. Confer with the landlord regarding any repairs to be made. Any agreements should be put into writing. Leases will often state a maximum occupancy of the rental unit. Honestly state the number of persons who will be living in the apartment. Falsifying this information could be grounds for eviction. Always make a copy of a signed lease.
As a tenant you are entitled to a safe and habitable living environment. The State Sanitary code protects the health, safety, and well-being of tenants. The local Boards of Health enforce the Code.
• The landlord must provide and maintain a heating system in good operating order.
• The landlord must maintain property free from rodents, cockroaches, and insect infestations, and must be responsible for extermination.
• The landlord must provide within the kitchen a sink and space for proper facilities for the installation of a refrigerator and stove and oven.
• The landlord must provide and maintain facilities capable of heating and supplying hot water at a temperature between 110F and 130F in a quantity and pressure sufficient to statisfy the ordinary use of all plumbing fixtures.
• Each landlord must maintain the foundation, floors, walls, windows, ceiling, roof, staircases, porches, chimney, and other structural elements so that it is in good repair and in every way fit for its intended use.
Every exit used or intended for use by occupants must be maintained free from obstruction.
Things to look for
Do all locks on the apartment doors and windows offer good security?
Do the doors and windows have adequate weather stripping? This can make a world of difference with winter fuel costs.
Do the doors of the apartment have peephole viewer?
Are the hallways well lit? Are bulbs missing or burned out?
Do the mailboxes show evidence of tampering?
Are all exterior doors and locks in good working order?
Are all fire escapes alarmed or enclosed to prevent unauthorized access?
Is off-street parking available?
Is there adequate water pressure? Turn on sinks and showers in order to test.
Questions to ask when viewing
What is the rent per month?
Is a security deposit required? If so, how much and under what conditions?
Does the landlord require payment of last month's rent in advance?
Are utilities (gas, electric, water, sewer, etc.) extra? How much?
Are laundry facilities accesibleor hookups available?
Are pets allowed? Is that an extra monthly fee?
Who has keys or access to the apartment? Are extra keys available?
Is subletting allowed?
Are maintenance hours restricted? How are emergency services handled?
How is garbaged disposed or handled? Are facilities accessible? Is recycling available?
Monthly: rent, gas, electric, cable, phone, water, sewer
One Time Fees: Phone installation, cable installation, and gas connection
Renter's Insurance is strongly suggested. Usually you can get a good, inexpensive coverage from the same company that you have auto insurance.
Things to remember when moving off campus
Cleaning supplies, toilet paper
Pots & Pans
Can a landlord enter my apartment at anytime? A landlord can enter your apartment for the following reasons
to inspect the premises
to make repairs
to show the apartment to prospecitve tenant, purchaser, mortgagee or its agents
in accordance with a court order or warrant
if the premises appears to have been abandoned
Generally, the landlord should be "reasonable." He/she should attempt to arrange a mutally convenient time to visit the apartment.
When can a landlord evict a tenant? You risk being evicted if
you fail to pay your rent
you use the premises for illegal purposes
you run a business in a residence-only zone
you or people under your control have caused excessive damage to the apartment
you overoccupy the apartment
you make structural changes withour prior written consent
you violate any other terms of your lease (i.e. pets without permission, subletting)
If my roommate moves out, is he/she responsible for the rent?
If he/she signed the lease (or agreed to an oral lease) then yes. However, when two roommates sign a lease, a landlord can look to each roommate for full payment of the rent, not just his or her share. Moving out does not end the obligation. A landlord can go after any one or all parties (all tenants and co-signers) involved for the full amount. All roommates should sign the lesae and copies should be made for each person.
Are there cirumstances that would justify breaking a lease? Yes, when
the premises are destroyed beyond repair by fire or flood
the landlord fails to disclose hidden defects in the property
the premises becomes uninhabitable
the landlord does not comply with an important term of the lease
Disclaimer: "Alvernia University expressly disclaims any and all responsibility for any problems that may arise with regard to any off-campus resident units or with regard to disputes between landlords and tenants concerning such property or rental units. All prospective tenants are encouraged to exercise their own judgment when evaluating a prospective rental unit or landlord. The information contained here should not be considered as a complete resource of all off-campus housing information. Alvernia University is not responsible for the accuracy of any information contained here, or for any risk of injury or loss of any kind relating to or arising out of the information presented. Alvernia University, its departments and its contractors, employees, agents and representatives are released from liability of any kind in relation to or arising out of the use of the information supplied herein. In no event shall Alvernia University be responsible for or liable for any injury or damages of any kind related to the use or misuse of information provided herein and/or for the consequences of any off-campus student housing arrangement. By providing this information, Alvernia University neither stands in loco parentis to its students nor assumes a duty to care for its students with respect to any off-campus housing arrangement. 2009."
Contact the Residence Life Office at (610) 796-8320