Living in an off-campus accommodation can be the greatest way for college and university students to become independent; but it can also be one of the biggest challenges for them.
The challenge can be even greater for international students who traveled across the globe to start a new life in a different country. Although schools, parents and the government make every effort to ensure the safety of student accommodations, some incidents and lease disputes can be unavoidable.
However, there are things that can be done to help reduce security risks and the occurrence of rental disagreements.
Safety & Security:
While most of the problems student renters may face are not life-threatening, some can result in property damage or monetary loss, which can turn into real hassles. Security concerns like defective locks, break-ins and faulty wiring can be the most common issues. To avoid being targeted and protect oneself, here are some tips to be mindful of.
Keep Valuables Out of Sight
Never leave valuables or electronic items near doors or windows. Keep all windows shut and locked when leaving the unit.
Look Out for Strangers and Unknown Visitors
Always keep an eye on strangers and unknown visitors on-site. Be aware of the surroundings and what’s taking place.
Before moving into a rental unit, make sure the locks are in good condition and keys work properly. Do not hide keys under the doormat or flowerpot near the entrance. Experienced thieves will look there first, when trying to break-in.
Make sure the doors are closed and locked at all times. Statistics show that thefts in most student rentals are completed by a walk-in, instead of a break-in.
Make Sure the Accommodation is Secure before Moving In
Inspect the exterior of the property and look for security breaches before moving into a rental accommodation. Thieves will often revisit the same location again.
Check fire alarms and smoke detectors regularly. Never leave the house with the oven, stove or kettle on. Unplug a curling iron or hair straightener after use. For more information on fire safety, read our:
Good rental etiquette, which is sometimes overlooked, can be the key to building a great landlord-tenant relationship. This is especially true in a landlord occupied accommodation.
Some basic rules for rental etiquette are provided below. The guidelines for self-contained rental units are listed separately from landlord occupied units, as the situations and accommodations are typically quite different. However, there are a few points that overlap and apply to both types of rentals.
All tenants must be given privacy and landlords must provide notice when entering their rental unit (except under specific emergency situations). It is advised to read and reference the applicable landlord/tenant laws for the city or state/province where the accommodation is located for further details.
Paying rent on time is an obligation of all tenants. If there is a special circumstance causing a late payment, communicate with the landlord in advance to ask for a grace period.
It’s the landlord’s property, but it’s the tenant’s home now. It’s important to use furniture and appliances properly, keep the place clean and build oneself a home away from home.
Speak with the landlord if there are any concerns regarding the accommodation or arrangements. Resolve any disagreements before they become bigger issues that might lead to the intervention of a third party.
1) Self-contained Rental Units with Private Entrance
Hold-on to the Lease Agreement
The lease is a legal document, but also a mutual agreement between the tenant and landlord. Read through the lease before signing it. Once the lease is signed, request a printed copy and keep it in an accessible place for reference, when needed.
Report Problems Immediately
If something breaks or needs maintenance in the rental unit, report the situation to the landlord immediately. Urgent issues should be addressed or scheduled for repair by the landlord within 24 hours of notice.
Take out the trash on time and sort recyclables accordingly. Rats, roaches and flies are not pleasant guests to attract, but may hang around if there is garbage lingering.
Some landlords require tenants to mow the lawn or shovel snow, especially when residing far away from the rental property or a third party company is not contracted to do the work. If maintenance responsibilities are part of the lease or agreement with a landlord, be sure to perform them when required.
Be considerate of the neighbors. Keep the TV volume and music at a reasonable level, especially early in the mornings and later in the evenings. Don’t infringe on other’s property or allow guests to be disruptive. Always be polite when interacting with neighbors.
2) Landlord Occupied Units with Shared Spaces
Clearly distinguish between the private and shared spaces within the accommodation, as well as outside, such as the driveway, patio, backyard, pool, etc. Before moving in, ask about the arrangements for shared facilities such as parking spots, laundry machines, fridge space, kitchen use, etc.
Always Ask for Permission
Ask for permission when entering someone else’s space or when needing to borrow anything. Respect the other person’s decision if “no” is the answer. This respect should work both ways.
Keep Voices and Noise Down
Be considerate of others. Turn the TV and music down, or wear a headset when someone in the house is resting or working. Learn a little bit about the other people’s schedule to build a harmonious living environment.
When cooking something with a strong smell, open the window to air out the odor and minimize the effect on others. Clean up after cooking and using dishes. Properly label personal food stored in the fridge when sharing the kitchen with others.
Every coin has two sides. Living in a landlord occupied accommodation usually means less freedom; but it may also yield unexpected benefits or friendship. Respect the landlord’s house rules when residing in a unit within someone’s home.
Even when taking precautions and complying with all these guidelines, trouble could still enter the situation. If disputes arise and cannot be resolved between a landlord and student tenant amicably or problems occur, it’s suggested to seek help from the college or university’s housing department. Seek legal advice and assistance as well, if the situation warrants it.
SEE ALSO: How To Screen a Prospective Landlord
The Places4Students.com Team