Tips for Renting a House in College
Are you a college student attending school away from home? If so, you may be asking yourself: should I live in a dorm or apartment close to campus?
There are many benefits to renting your own space vs. living on campus, including:
- More privacy—no communal bathrooms for you! And you also get to choose if you want to live with someone—that means your roommate choice is completely yours—not randomly selected by an intern.
- Less “extra” expenses—it might sound crazy, but renting is often less expensive than dorming. That’s because dorm life comes with a variety of “additional” fees that are out of your control, including
- Paying for a campus meal-plan
- Paying for laundry
- Paying for utilities at a “fixed rate”
- More Freedom—not only do you get to choose “who” you want to live with, but you also get to decide “where” you want to live. This opens up a whole world of possibilities for your social life. It also provides you with a much needed break from school, so you can relax, unwind and get some fresh perspective.
Okay, now we know the benefits of renting vs. dorming, so let’s get to the next topic of conversation.
Can a College Student Rent an Apartment or Home?
The answer is yes, but this is usually contingent on one big factor: your co-signer. Typically, a landlord will require you to have a co-signer who is willing to put their name on the lease.
Why is this required? Generally, most college students seldom have good credit scores established or regular income. A co-signer is an individual who has favorable credit history and will assume any liability—should you be unable to pay the rent. Your co-signer can be a parent, close family member, or friend (maybe an older roommate) who does 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. That means if you decide to move out at the end of your lease and find a different place, you won’t necessarily need someone to cosign.
7 Tips for Renting a House in College
At The Realty Medics, we specialize in Orlando property management, but we remember all too well what it was like looking for a place to rent while in college. That’s why we’ve created this guide to help you find the best rental—without having to borrow extra money from mom and dad.
Here are a few tips and tricks to follow that will make your renting experience both fun and educational!
Get 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 ads posted by landlords renting rooms to students.
Decide If You Need a Roommate?
You may want to consider having a roommate to help split the cost of rent and the utilities bills. Selecting the right roommate is almost as important as selecting your rental home.
Once you do find a good match, be sure to apply together.
View at Least 3 Rentals
You’ll want to get a sense of the types of homes that are available within your budget. On your first visit, take pictures or a video of the space. This will allow you to gather some perspective on available homes within your price range.
Moreover, you may also find that the home you fell in love with on your first viewing was rented to someone else, so it’s 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’ll need to have on your checklist may include:
- Where is the home located and 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 an extra 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 quiet neighborhood?
Carefully Assess How the Home Is Maintained
We recommend taking a video of the property before you move in. Get pictures of these specific items, in particular:
- Is the paint peeling off the walls?
- Are there any broken light bulbs?
- How are the floors?
- Are the grounds well maintained?
This practice will also ensure you receive the full security deposit if there is a discrepancy with the landlord when you move out.
Have Your Security Deposit Ready
We 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, so you’ll definitely want to be able to leave a deposit when you find that perfect home.
Read Before Signing Your Lease
We cannot stress this enough! Having seen others do this when renting a home 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’s 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 important terms to keep an eye on 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?
- Who is responsible for maintenance of the grounds?
Get More Renting Tips
Renting a house, apartment, or room as a college student is a big step! But with the right strategy and mindset, it can be both exciting and affordable.
Stay connected to our blog to learn more about renting a home, apartment, or condo in Central Florida.
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