Housing Advice, Renting

Subletting Your Apartment for the Summer

If you are going home for the summer or taking that internship in New York, you may want to consider subletting your apartment.  That way you won’t be paying for an empty apartment you’re not staying in.  However, there are some things you may want to consider before you do.

1.    Check with your landlord to see if you can sublet.  Not all landlords like people subletting their units, and if you sublet without their permission both you and your tenant could be evicted.  However, if they do allow subletting and/or you have a good relationship with them, they may let you.  In an article we read on eHow.com, they explain that you should only be subletting what you have the right to sublet.  This means that, for example, if you have a month-to-month agreement with your landlord, you want to make sure that your are subletting on a month-to-month basis.

2.    Talk to your friends to see if they would be interested.  It will be significantly easier for you to sublet for a few months to a friend rather than a stranger.  That way you can leave some of your personal belongings behind and you don’t have to worry about it.  It may also be easier for you to address your concerns with them, and for them to address their concerns with you.

3.    If you can’t find a friend, you may want to post up your sublet.  At JumpOffCampus we post sublets for anyone looking to sublet their apartment.  You can also post up your sublet around your campus to see if anyone at your school would be interested.  There may be someone taking summer classes that needs a place to stay for a few months.

4.    Set a reasonable rental price.  In a blog post we read by Kathleen Corlett on HerCampus.com, you want to set a price that won’t scare off any potential renters.  You have to be aware that you probably won’t get the full rent, so you want to take that into consideration.  You will most likely get about 75% of the actual rental cost.

5.    Whether your roommates are staying for the summer or they aren’t, you want to be sure in considering their opinions.  If they are staying for the summer, you want to be sure that they have a hand in deciding whom you will sublet to.  As they are the one(s) who will be staying with this person, you want them to be just as happy with your decision as you are.  If they aren’t staying for the summer, you want to be sure that you set ground rules togehter for the renter that both of you will be happy with.

6.     Meet the prospective tenants.  This way you can see who you will be renting to.  According to Corlett, there are a lot of rental scams out there.  You want to be sure that the person who you are renting to is legitimate and someone you feel comfortable with.  You can think of this process as kind of like a job interview.

7.    You want to be sure to draw up a written and binding agreement between the renter and yourself.  You want to be sure that the tenant agrees to pay the agreed amount each month and that they abide by the terms of your lease that you and your landlord had agreed upon.  In this agreement you may want to consider including any ground rules that you have established for the tenant.  Be sure to check with your landlord to see if they too have any additions to this agreement, or any additional paperwork they may need you or the tenant to fill out.

8.    Get a security deposit from the tenant.  This will ensure that you’ll be covered if there is any damage done to your apartment while your tenant is there.  you’re not left with a hefty bill or lose out on your own security deposit.

9.    Arrange for the tenant to send you money.  This way you will make sure the rent is paid directly to your landlord.

10. Make sure to clean up your place before you leave.  Cleaning before you leave is considerate, and is a great way to make sure none of your possessions get damaged or lost.

11.  Take photos before you leave.  That way you can verify what the apartment looked like when you left before the subtenant moved in.  You want to be sure to date this photo if it is not already time-stamped.  This is just in case any problems arise with damages or other incidents.

Apartment Hunting, Housing Advice, Renting

Finding A Sublet For the Summer

If you are looking to sublet a place for the summer, there are some important things you need to consider.

1.    Know what you’re looking for.  When you start your search, you want to have an idea of what you would want in a sublet.  In a blog post we read by Kathleen Corlett at HerCampus.com, there are some important questions you want to ask yourself.  Is your ideal sublet furnished or unfurnished?  Is it in walking distance to your work or near a bus stop?  Do you have roommates?  Do you have your own bedroom?  Corlett even suggests putting together a checklist to compare them side-by-side.

2.    Be flexible.  In a blog post we read by Juliet O’Reilly on GradGuard.com, she suggests keeping an open mind when looking at sublets, as a place may not be exactly what you had envisioned, but it may offer you more opportunities than you had expected.

3.    Cover all ground.  O’Reilly advises that while you don’t want to get overwhelmed in your search, you want to be sure that you are looking at all of the opportunities and not limiting yourself.

4.    When you find an ad you like, make sure to get all the info.  Ask for more photos and more information on the rental first before you go to see it.  That way you won’t waste your time viewing a place that won’t fit your needs.

5.    Review crime statistics for the area.  If you don’t know the area very well, you want to be sure that you look at the crime rates for an area.  You want to be sure that the place you live is safe.

6.    Narrow it down.  Narrow your search down to a few places your like the most.  These will be the places that you want to tour.  You may also want to be sure to have a few backups just in case the places you see don’t work out or aren’t what you are looking for.

7.    Check out your top picks.  You don’t want to sign a lease before you’ve seen the place for yourself.

8.    Choosing a place.  Make sure you choose the place that fits your needs best and is somewhere you can see yourself living.

9.    Make sure you read the sublease carefully before signing.  You want to know what you are committing to, if there are any special rules, or if you need clarification on something.

10. When you move in, make sure to take time-stamped photos of the place.  This will prevent you from getting stuck with the bill if there are any damages.

11. Collect all the contact information for the person you are subletting from.  You want to be sure to get all this information before they leave so that you have some way of contacting them.

Housing Advice, Student Life

How to decide between on or off campus housing

We know it’s a big decision to make whether or not to live off campus, and we hope to be able to guide you through the decision process.  There are a few major questions to ask yourself when you are looking at the two options and seeing which is right for you.

First you have to look at the costs associated with both.  If cost is important to your decision (which for a lot of people it is) you have to make a list of all the costs that both options would entail.  For on campus housing you would need to look at the cost of the actual housing, meal plans if you would need one, and any other board fees associated with being on campus.  For off campus housing, you need to consider the actual rent (this is going to involve some research, rents vary greatly between areas), the utilities (if they are not included) and other costs such as furniture, internet, cable, parking, groceries, and transportation costs to get to campus, etc.  Once you are able to estimate the costs of both options, you will have a better feel for which option will be more viable for you.

Other things to consider when looking at the two options are what you are getting for your money.  If you are getting a tiny room in a dorm and you have to share with a roommate, compared to a larger room to yourself in an apartment that can influence your decision.  Or if you are able to get a really nice on campus townhouse style suite then it might not be that bad of a deal to stay on campus.  Also, you should consider factors associated with meal plans, like if you feel you do not eat in the dining hall enough for a meal plan to be worth it, then maybe grocery shopping for yourself in an apartment would be a cheaper option.  But on the other side, if you typically eat your parent’s out of house and home, then maybe an all-you-can-eat dining hall would end up being cheaper in the long run.

Once you have weighed the costs of both options and how they compare with each other, there are other things to consider with both options.  Convenience is another big thing to look at.  For example, an article discussing Boston University’s off campus housing discusses how off campus housing is often way more convenient for students.  (Read the full article here). The article talked about how for some students it is easier to live off campus because of scheduling, study abroad, and other reasons.  For some, because of classes or other activities, it is more practical to live on campus. Like if you have all of your classes spread out throughout the day, and would have to drive back and forth to campus a couple of times a day it might not be worth it to live off.  For others, it is more convenient to live off campus, like if you would otherwise always miss dining hall hours because of a late activity that runs through dinner then maybe it is easier to live off campus and cook for yourself when you need to.

Either way you decide to go, as long as you make sure you plan ahead and do your research, you’re going to have a great school year with your friends and hopefully JumpOffCampus made the process a little bit easier for you all.

Housing Advice, Renting

How to protect yourself when you rent

Renting an off-campus property can be an overwhelming task, to say the least.  We try to help, but how do you know you’re making the right choice when you rent?

In a recent article by Jessica Hickok (http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2012/05/15/how-to-protect-yourself-as-renter/), she identified some very specific things renters can do to protect themselves when renting a property.  Here is the breakdown of that list:

  • Checking the state’s landlord/tenant laws
  • Watching for red flags on a lease, including changes to monthly charges within the time of the agreement, can you make repairs yourself if the landlord does not respond to repair requests, will you get reimbursed for making those repairs, how will your security deposit be settled once you leave, and are there any eviction procedures that could take place
  • Make sure the owner isn’t in the foreclosure process with the property
  • Be sure to have an exit plan just in case

A lot of the time students may often forget they too have rights as renters.  This is why it is so important to point out some things you can do to protect yourself when signing an agreement because you just never know.

To find your state’s Tenant Rights Handbook, go to http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/topics/rental_assistance/tenantrights.

Student Life

Why do students move off-campus?

At JumpOffCampus we know that every campus is different went it comes to housing. Some schools have housing for their students, some do not, and there are others in between.  But why do students want to move off-campus when their school offers housing on-campus?

In an article by RedandBlack.com (http://redandblack.com/2012/04/24/rising-sophomores-choose-between-on-and-off-campus-housing/), we got an idea on how to answer this question.  According to the article, 67% of freshmen students at the University of Georgia live on campus, while only 18% of sophomores and even fewer juniors and seniors actually live in the dorms.  However, one of the University’s biggest issues with keeping students on campus is space.  According to Carla Dennis, the Assistant to the Executive Director of University Housing, “The majority of our residence halls on-campus are filled with first year students because we have a commitment to first year students as part of the first year live on requirement . . . Unfortunately we don’t have the space to house all of the students who want to live on-campus after their first year.”

While space may be a consideration for some students, it is not the only thing drawing students to off-campus housing.  Other students interviewed at the University of Georgia suggested that the promise of independence, greater privacy, and more affordable living were especially appealing to students looking at off-campus housing options.  In another article in the Princeton Review (http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/05/16/30980/), they added that students also are enticed by greater accommodations, more recreational opportunities, and more “bang for your buck” when they make the decision to move off-campus.  While there are some disadvantages to living off-campus, such as inconvenience in the commute to campus and parking, it appears that students seem to identify more of a benefit to this style of living.  So while it may be tough finding a parking spot or taking public transportation to campus every day, for many it seems to be well worth it.

Apartment Hunting, Housing Advice, Renting

When should I start looking for an apartment?!

With the summer finally here, at JumpOffCampus we have been trying to get a feel for the housing search process and see when students really begin their search.  While the sublet market for summer housing is a rather quick process where you can find an apartment one day and basically move in the next, the search for year round housing is usually a more involved process.

We saw an article (http://www.miamistudent.net/news/students-rush-to-find-off-campus-housing-1.2855045#.T6lQpehSSxg) about students at Miami University and how their housing search is getting a bit crazy.  Students at Miami have had a difficult time finding enough off campus housing for the population.  Because of the shortage of on campus housing, they feel rushed to sign leases up to 18 months in advance in order to beat the crowd!  Students at Miami University are required to live on campus their first two years, and they often sign leases for apartments as freshman.  One group of students when they were signing their lease even had students knocking on their door yelling that they would pay double.  There also were students calling and claiming the 2014-2015 school year already for their house!

So what does this situation at Miami University say about the off campus housing process?  The search for off campus housing is definitely not always enjoyable.  It is stressful, time consuming, and often times you feel like you are just spinning your tires without getting anywhere.  In the case of Miami University, the students there have felt so much pressure to get housing early, that they rush to sign leases school years in advance and once they sign they often regret it, because they have no idea what they are going to be doing two years from now or who their friends will be and whether they just made a good decision or not.

What can we learn from this case about how to go about the upcoming fall semester housing search?  Well, the first thing is to definitely start early (although Miami students may be forced to start a little too early).  It is important to plan ahead of time and try to secure something, but there is no reason to feel pressure to sign something without fully thinking about it.  You should try and stay ahead of the game, but keep in mind, there is never just one ideal option out there.  If you know where to look, you will find that perfect apartment.  You don’t need to take the first one that comes your way just to get the process over with.

It also is important to know where to look.  That’s where we come in!  We have now made it easy to sign up for JumpOffCampus without having an affiliated school.  That means that even if your school does not use our service or endorse it on the school website, you can still sign up and see what apartments might be around your area!  Also, if you are looking for a sublet, anyone from any school can see them too!

Lastly, it is important to work with the landlords and make sure the lease is exactly how you want it.   Make sure it is very detailed and that it covers everything you need in order to protect yourself (we will talk more about this in an upcoming post) and that any verbal changes that are made to the lease are written down and amended.  If the lease doesn’t address things you feel it should, then speak up!

JumpOffCampus, Uncategorized

Sublets are blowin’ up!

We have some big news in the sublets department, and just in time for summer!  We know how stressful it can be to find summer housing, it’s always super competitive, and places that are willing to rent to students for just a couple of months are hard to come by.  Hopefully JumpOffCampus can help you with this and make your summer housing search faster, easier, and less stressful.  We have seen a lot of growth with our sublets and we have decided to make it even easier for students to find them.

For example, Brown University in Providence, RI has seen a huge amount of student response to sublets.  Over 160 sublet listings have been posted, and over 1000 messages have been sent through the site inquiring about them!  With this kind of growth, we wanted to make sure that any student could take advantage of our site, regardless of whether or not their school is affiliated with us.

We have now opened JumpOffCampus to allow any student to sign up to see sublets that are posted at any school.  This way you can look at any housing in an area you need.  What if you get a summer internship in Boston, but you are from Connecticut?  It can be really stressful to find housing in those types of situations, so we decided to make it better!  Now that you can see all sublets, you can simply find the perfect apartment in the area you are looking for!

Also, if you have an apartment that you are looking to sublet, we make it super easy to post and find the perfect students to fill your place!  What’s nice about JumpOffCampus is that the site is student centered, so if you have a place, you can easily find other students to fill it!  It’s easy, avoids wasting your time with the wrong types of people, and keeps your focus on things that are really important, oh yeah like finals!

If you have any comments, questions, suggestions, or feedback, let us know!  We are always looking to improve!  Good luck everyone on the end of the semester and let’s get those sublets rented!!