Are you a college student attending school away from home? If so then you’ll probably be looking for an house close enough to your college campus and that new internship you’ve just been offered. Although this can be an exciting time for you, it can also become a frustrating experience while trying to find the perfect place to rent.
Here are a few tips and tricks for you to follow while you make your renting experience that much more fun.
Get off to an early start
Remember, you’re not the only college student looking for a place to rent. You will have to compete with other students looking for available rentals in the area. The best time for you to begin your search will be during the summer months to allow yourself enough time to begin your search to find the best home that meets your budget and location. Visiting the neighborhood to make a note of the appealing and unappealing areas is always a good idea. You may even come across possible rental signs posted by landlords advertising places for rent.
Will you have a roommate?
You may want to consider having a roommate to help split the cost of rent and the utilities bills. Selecting the proper roommate is almost as important as selecting your rental home. Once you find a proper roommate ensure they are following the same steps as you and you should apply together.
View a minimum of two to three rentals homes
You’ll want to get a feel of the range of homes which are available in your budget. On your first visit you should video your visit. This will allow you to gather some perspective on available homes within your price range. Moreover you may also find that that home you fell in love with on your first time viewing was rented to someone else, so its always a wise idea to have a backup.
Make a Checklist
While looking for a place to rent, make a checklist of the things to look for before heading out to view any available homes. Some of the questions you will need to have on your checklist include;
- Where is the home located? Is it convenient to get to school in traffic?
- Does the home have adequate room for your furniture?
- Does the rental cost include any utilities?
- Can I take my dog or cat to live with me? Is there a fee?
- What is the security deposit amount? Is it fully refundable?
- Is there an application fee?
- Is the area known for a high crime rate?
- Is this a quite neighborhood?
Carefully assess how the home is maintained.
We recommend taking a video of the property before you move in.
- Is the paint peeling off the walls?
- Are there any broken light bulbs?
- How are the floors?
- Are the grounds well maintained?
These are all very important factors you will need to take into consideration as not every home viewed will meet your criteria. Occasionally you will come across an home or rental which may very well be perfectly suited to your budget but lack the overall space and security. You will also want to complete the move in checklist and have a move in video to document the condition of the property. This will ensure you will receive the full security deposit if there is a discrepancy with the landlord when you move out.
Have your security deposit ready
I cannot begin to tell you how many students have lost out on the perfect home just because they weren’t able to make a security deposit within 24-48 hours of acceptance. Remember, the competition is fierce and you will definitely want to be able to leave a deposit when you find that perfect home.
One thing you will need to bear in mind when looking for your college rental is, the landlord will likely require you to have a co-signer who is willing to put their name on your lease. This is generally required as most college students will seldom have established a credit score and income. A co-signer will be someone with a favorable credit history to assume the liability should you be unable to pay the rent. Your parent, close family member or friend can do this for you. Upon completing the rental agreement you can always build your credit score by finding student credit offerings available by banks within the area.
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We cannot stress this enough. Having made the drastic mistake ourselves and having seen others do exactly the same thing when renting for college we urge you to make a keen note of this tip. When you finally find that perfect home and have secured your rental agreement.
Before signing the lease both you and your co-signer MUST THOROUGHLY read through the entire agreement before making any commitment whatsoever. It is very likely that the contract will be an adhesion document where the terms and conditions set by the landlord are non negotiable. It’s very much like a take it or leave it situation, if you get the point. As such it is pivotal that you understand the legal terms and language which you will come across in the contract such as “shares’, ‘sublets’, ‘forfeit’ and a few others. Other things you will need to look out for include; how much is required for the security deposit, what are the penalties if you’re late on the rent, when the rent is due, and maintenance of the grounds.