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Tips for Off-Campus Housing

  • Take Your Time Choosing a Place to Live

    You are the customer, it is your money. This is a financial commitment that is legally binding. Where you live and who you live with over the next 12 months can have a profound effect on you positively or negatively. In this type of situation haste does make waste.
  • Applications

    Do not sign anything, or fill out any applications until you are certain you have identified the place you want to rent. Some applications will automatically legally bind you to the lease. Do not sign anything unless you can afford to pay for it.
  • Talk is Cheap

    This is a business arrangement between you and the landlord. Get everything in writing and document conversations so there are no misunderstandings by you or the landlord later on during the lease.
  • Know What You Are Signing

    There are two types of leases commonly used; Joint and Several, and Individual. In the Lehigh Valley area, the individual lease is typically used. However, with a Joint and Several lease you are responsible for your portion of the rent and your ROOMMATES', if they do not pay their portion. If your roommates are unable to pay their portion of the rent, you will be expected to make up the difference. If you do not pay their portion of the rent the co-signer (parental guarantee) will get a bill requesting them to pay the difference. Essentially, you are your brother's/sister's keeper with Joint and Several Lease. With an individual lease you are responsible for paying only your portion of the rent. If your roommate does not pay his/her portion of rent, the property manager goes after him/her, and not you.
  • Before You Move In

    Document the condition of the apartment- do a damage checklist, take pictures (give the landlord a copy and keep a copy for yourself). The damage checklist lets the landlord know what needs to  be repaired in the unit and it provides you with a record of the condition upon the move in. Most landlords want to know what is wrong with the unit so they can repair it.
  • Repairs/Maintenance

    Help the landlord and yourself by reporting all repairs to management immediately. Get the name of the person you report the repair/problem to and the date. Document the request for maintenance in writing for your own records.
  • Security Deposits

    When you are ready to move out, get the damage checklist and the photos. Review your comments regarding the unit. Clean like you have never cleaned before. If at all possible, get the landlord to walk through the unit before you turn over the keys. Take pictures again upon the move out. Give the keys to the landlord and wait for a response within thirty days after you turn over your keys.

Renting a Room in a Private House

  • The tenant is a paying guest if he/she is living in someone's home.
  • The tenant needs to realize he/she is in a family situation and treat it as such.
  • The landlord is not your father or mother.
  • She or he is not required to clean up behind you, so remember to:
            * Wash your dishes
            * Keep your room clean
            * Pick up your books or belongings all around the house
  • Let the family know if you can plan to have a guest or friend over.
  • No overnight guests unless approved by the landlord.
  • Remember you cannot have family visits unless approved by the landlord/owner of the house.
  • If you come home late be quiet and try not to disturb the family members. Out of respect let the family members know if you will be coming home in the evening or if you will be coming home late.
  • Let the family members know if you are going out of town.
  • Ask permission to use the phone if they allow it or have a separate line installed.
  • Do not play loud music. You are sharing a living a space with others.
  • Ask Permission to use any and all appliances i.e.: irons. vacuum cleaners, etc.

Penn State University Disclaimer

The Pennsylvania State University makes no representation whatsoever regarding the housing or the landlords listed through this office/site. The properties listed are done so at the request of the landlords to assist students in locating possible off-campus housing opportunities. Students are responsible to inspect the property and negotiate lease terms with any landlord. The Pennsylvania State University has not inspected or investigated these listings or landlords in any way and is not endorsing any specific properties or landlords for students by this listing. The Pennsylvania State University disclaims any responsibility, among other things, for the condition of any premises, terms of any leases, treatment by any landlord, or compliance with any applicable local zoning ordinances.

Housing Tips
A few tips to help students through their off-campus housing search.

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