Make back up plans when searching for apartments

By Faith Mellenthin

For those who live in apartments or plan to, preparing several backup plans for the school year is the safest way to guarantee a student will have a place to stay.

There are many steps that go toward securing a place to live, and at this point it is too late to have an early start on the apartment hunt. Keeping this in mind, students can still find a place to live for the upcoming school year as long as they are cautious and strategic.

Greg Tumulty, general manager of Star Apartments, said people begin to show interest in certain properties as early as October and November. Leases around NIU are generally signed during March, so signing off anytime in the spring semester would still give people a good chance at finding housing; signing any later becomes dicey because most leases begin in August.

In January, the leasing companies expect answers from those who want to renew their leases.

“Either they stay or they go, there’s no problem,” said Jim Mason, owner of Mason Properties.

But for tenants, the answer is more complicated than that. It is very difficult for students to plan this far ahead when they are living with roommates or waiting for things like study abroad opportunities or scholarship money. The biggest stressor when it comes to finding housing can be simply not knowing what do next.

“The best thing to do is open up a dialogue [with your landlord],” Tumulty said.

At this point, some landlords have an interest in keeping their current tenants and are willing to work with them partially because it makes for less paperwork than signing new tenants.

Residence halls

Residence halls hold around 5,000 students, which is only about 25 percent of all students enrolled, according to the NIU website.

Choosing a room in the residence halls could be a good back up plan, but students should be aware that space is limited and comes at a higher cost than living off campus. To make sure students have a good back up in the residence halls, they can reserve a room and be cautious of dates where they may have to make a payment and be contractually obligated to pay for the room.

Off-campus living

People who already leased out properties could still be looking for roommates. Advertising available rooms online is a convenient way to find roommates in a short amount of time.

Unfortunately, there are many risks to living with strangers, like bad hygiene or noisiness. While living with friends may sound like a convenient alternative, this option also comes with pitfalls. A lease is a permanent contract that does not take friendship into account. Even though roommates may be the reason you stay at a property, they can just as easily become the reason to leave. If situations take a turn for the worse, a student could end up as the friend sleeping on a couch. Even on a time crunch, students should screen their roommates as carefully as they would a midterm paper.

“Always plan in advance, even if you have doubts,” said Soroush Yousefisahi, a second year Industrial Engineering student.

As someone who moved here at the start of the semester, Yousefisahi said he was concerned about not knowing where and who he was going to live with.

Students must consider all their options because it is not the leasing companies’ responsibility to make sure students plan ahead.