Here at UW Oshkosh, we tend to sign leases about a year in advance – crazy I know! There seems to be a lot of pressure from landlords to sign right away in the fall, so we don’t miss out on the good places. Therefore, a lot of students run into issues finding the right people to live with. You guessed it – I was one of them.
I signed a year-long lease in September of my sophomore year with friends I met freshman year. Little did I know that these girls wouldn’t stay my best friends for long. During the time we lived together, we started drifting apart, and finally it got to the point of catty arguments and passive-aggressive note writing. Not fun. Here are some important things to keep in mind when renting your first college home (regarding roommates and other important stuff):
1. Know the people you are living with – a lot of times NOT living with your best friends works out better. Then you don’t have to worry about getting sick of each other, and feeling pressured to hang out every night. Who knows – it could be an opportunity to meet people you never would have seen yourself being friends with in the first place!
2. Understand what’s in your lease – When signing your first lease, make sure you have time to look it over with your roommates without the landlord present. This gives you a chance to really understand what it is saying, and an opportunity to ask questions (whether it be Mom, Big Sis or Google).
3. Write down and take pictures of anything that might look like “damages.” This will serve as proof if your landlord decides to deduct from your security deposit to cover the costs.
4. Make sure you understand how your landlord would like to get paid. Do they want one check for the whole apartment? Each roommate’s individually in one envelope? Separate ones? Maybe they have an online-payment option? They could even offer a discounted rate if you pay in 4-month installments (less checks to write, but more chunks of money at one time).
5. Get to know your landlord. You’re about to get into a year-long legal relationship. You better be on each others’ good side.
6. Tell your landlord when something needs fixing. That’s what they’re there for. Make sure you thank them for all of their hard work if they get the job done quickly.
No matter where you live, the most important thing is that you feel safe and comfortable. After a long day at class and work, you deserve a place where you can relax and be yourself.
Check out this article if you’ll be searching for an apartment after graduation. There are a few more things to consider!