Your first year of college is notoriously defined by dorm life. Moving beyond the communal dorms and picking a rental property off campus can be both an exciting and stressful process. You get to pick your roommates, the available amenities, and the location of your apartment or home; however, you are also embarking into a world of security deposits and lease agreements. Here are five tips for finding the perfect rental property for your college lifestyle.
Start Looking Early
You are not the only college student looking for a place to rent. Your hallway neighbor and your crush from the opposite wing of your dorm, they’re looking for places, too. So, start your search as early as possible. Most properties near your college are going to open up at the beginning of the summer. For rentals in Boise, check out property management sites like Home River Group for availabilities.
Define Roommate Situation
Roommates are extremely helpful for splitting the costs of rent and utilities. Note that most properties will require that you pay at least the gas and electric bills on a monthly basis. Make sure that the roommate(s) that you choose are reliable and trustworthy. Most rental properties will require that all renters’ names be on the lease. It will be up to the landlord or property manager in regard to how payment is accepted. Some landlords and property managers will accept one payment from all parties and all names on lease will be held responsible if the payment isn’t made; other landlords and property managers will accept individual payments and will hold each person individually responsible for his or her portion. Make sure you clearly understand how this process is going to work before signing any lease agreements.
View at Least 2-3 Rentals
Set your budget and then look at a few properties within your price range. It’s likely that Boise State students will pay the same price to be in downtown Boise with smaller square footage and no amenities in comparison to living in a community like Stonesthrow in Meridian with a slightly longer commute to campus, but with significantly more square footage and access to amenities like a pool, sand volleyball courts, and a gym. Establish your priorities to make the best decision for your finances and your lifestyle. A checklist can prove very useful in this decision-making process:
What is the commute time to campus?
Are you going with or against traffic on the commute?
Are you close to supermarkets, bars, coffee shops, restaurants, and other student hangouts?
Does rent include utilities?
Is laundry on site or will you need to use a laundromat?
How much is the security deposit?
Is the deposit refundable?
Is there a fee to apply for the property?
Will you need to buy furniture for the communal areas?
Does the landlord or property manager allow pets?
Is there an additional pet deposit?
What is the crime rate in the area?
How quiet or loud is the neighborhood?
Have Security Deposit Ready
Most students lose out on a property because they fail to submit the security deposit within the 24- to 48-hour window granted by the landlord or property manager. Remember, the rental competition in Boise is fierce. If you have established credit through a credit card or other previous rental properties, you should be able to sign the lease independently. If you do not yet have credit, you are more than likely going to need a co-signer (with credit) to sign the lease with you. Essentially, the co-signer will be someone with a favorableß credit history who will assume the liability of the property should you fault on your rental payments. Know whether or not you will need a co-signer, have this person ready to sign, and also be prepared with the necessary funds.
Carefully Assess how the Home is Maintained
Fill out the move-in checklist and take a video of the property before you move in. Some things that will require your attention:
Is the paint peeling off the walls?
Are there any broken light bulbs?
What is the condition of the floors?
Do you have a yard, and if so, how is it maintained?
Any rental property is going to a require some sort of security deposit. Making note of the property’s condition upon move-in ensures that you will get that deposit back at the end of your lease. You will also want to pay special attention to the lease agreement in order to understand whether or not you can screw into walls, mount TVs, or paint. It is always best to ask for permission than forgiveness with a landlord or property manager.
The key for college students who are looking for a rental property is to be thorough in regard to wants and needs in addition to being overly prepared. Start looking early and make sure to evaluate more than one apartment or home to create specific boundaries around likes and dislikes. Once you and your roommate(s) have decided on a property, immediately submit the required deposits and fill out any move-in paperwork. Then, enjoy the life of living off campus, away from the dorms, and near all the amenities that you established as being important for your college lifestyle.