Use hints when you hunt

By Tricia Roegner

Once you decide there is no way you can live in the residence halls any longer, it’s time to start the grueling task of finding your own apartment.

But before any money changes hands, there are a few things you should check out.

The Tenant Landlord Handbook, available in the Students’ Legal Assistance Office, suggests many different things for a buyer to check before signing any lease.

The Off-Campus Housing Listing Service—located in East Neptune Hall—has a list of suggestions for anyone looking for off-campus housing.

A Student Association Tenant Union survey also is available in the Students’ Legal office to students who would like feedback about the apartments from the tenants who previously lived in them.

If a student does find an apartment they are interested in, Legal Assistance Attorney Lynn Richards said, they should request to see a copy of the lease before signing it.

In this lease, the student should check for an access clause, which gives your landlord the right to have access to your apartment at any time, even if it isn’t an emergency situation, Richards said. This clause is often put in the lease without the buyer actually knowing what it actually means, she added.

“Never sign a lease before you read it thoroughly and have seen the actual apartment that you will be living in.”

ichards said, after seeing the actual apartment the student will rent, they should make sure to check out a few things. Look for existing defects such as holes in the walls, broken windows and doors, etc., she said.

If any physical damage is found, the new tenant should make sure to take pictures of the existing conditions and fill out a room condition report documenting the condition of the apartment, Richards said.

She said there also are questions that every buyer should make sure to ask their landlord.

“Questions that buyers sometimes forget to ask range from parking facilities available to the tenants to limitations to how loud you can play your stereo,” Richards said.

ichards said that before the lease is signed is the time the renter should ask these questions and negotiate with their landlord. Because after that piece of paper is signed, there is no turning back, she said.