Factors to Consider in Your Housing Search
When looking for off-campus housing, here are a few factors to consider:
Before looking for off-campus accommodations, it’s important to determine what you can afford. This will help to determine all the other factors below.
When looking for housing, location is everything. You should consider whether you would want to walk, bike, drive or take public transportation to and from Cleveland Clinic.
See the Neighborhood Map under the “Neighborhoods & Transportation” section for more information on location and commuting.
Length of Stay
Knowing how long you will need to rent a property is an important factor to consider before searching for housing. Will you be here for a month or a year? If you are planning to stay for less than 12 months, then you need short-term housing.
Consider whether you would like to live alone, with a roommate or with several housemates. Oftentimes, budget doesn’t allow for students to live on their own; therefore, it is vital that they find a compatible roommate. Knowing your living preferences and budget is helpful in narrowing down the search.
If you plan on living with a pet, it is important to search only for accommodations that allow pets. In most cases, if pets are allowed, landlords will charge a pet deposit, which is sometimes refundable. Failure to disclose a household pet can lead to fines, removal of the pet or, in some cases, eviction. Be sure to ask the landlord if the property is pet-friendly before signing a lease.
We may not have mentioned all your wants and needs above; therefore, we encourage you to brainstorm what else you want or need in order to secure your optimal accommodations. For example, consider making a list of which amenities are must-haves and which you are willing to forgo. This list will help when you’re faced with choices, such as between higher and lower rental payments.
Create A Budget
An important first step to searching for off-campus housing is to determine a realistic budget. In addition to monthly rent, additional routine costs need to be factored in. These costs could include:
- Security deposit
- Application fee
- Monthly utilities, e.g., electricity, gas, water, internet, cable
- Renter’s insurance
- Laundry costs
- Food/Household costs
- Transportation costs
To assist you with determining your budget, we have created a budget worksheet. This worksheet will allow you to take inventory of your routine income and expenses and give you an idea of what you can afford.
Questions for Landlords
Oftentimes, rental ads are brief and may not provide enough information about the property you are interested in. To ensure you are getting all the information you need about the property, it is important to make sure you are asking the right questions.
Below is a list of example questions to ask a landlord over the phone or at an open house. These questions should be tailored to your specific concerns. Be sure to read the rental advertisement thoroughly, however, before calling a landlord and asking questions.
- How much is the rent? When is it due?
- Is there a penalty if rent is late?
- How much is the security deposit? Does it all need to be paid upfront?
- How long is the lease?
- When does the lease end/begin?
- Are utilities included? If so, which utilities? If not, how much do the utilities for this property usually run? In the case that the house is shared, you should ask how utilities are split.
- Should all roommates sign the lease?
- What appliances are included?
- Does the property have parking? If so, how many parking spaces?
- Are parking permits needed? If so, what is the cost?
- Is the unit furnished?
- Where is the rental located? What is the address?
- Is there a bus stop nearby? If so, how far?
- Are the tenants responsible for the upkeep of the landscaping?
- Can pictures be hung on the walls?
- Under what circumstances may the landlord enter the property? How much advance notice must be given prior to entry?
- How are maintenance concerns handled? What are the procedures for reporting problems?
Find a Roommate
When renting a property with roommates, there are generally two ways to go about it. You could either look for an already occupied property that has an available room for rent or you could find someone you want to live with and search for a housing accommodation together.
Regardless of which method you choose, it’s important to ensure you and your future roommate are compatible. To help you determine what to look for in a compatible roommate, we have created a thorough roommate questionnaire.
We also recommend you use our controlled and secure Facebook page to communicate with other students who are also looking for a roommate.
How to Inspect a Property
We highly encourage you to take the time to inspect a property thoroughly before signing a lease. We have created an inspection checklist to assist you in this process. If you identify any issues during inspection, discuss them immediately with the property manager. If the property manager agrees to address the issues, be sure to get the agreement in writing and included in your lease.
Signing a Lease
Before signing a lease, it is very common for a property manager to ask everyone on the lease to fill out an application. This application usually costs anywhere from $25 to $75 per person. The property manager may also check your credit report.
Once an application for the property has been filled out and approved, a property manager will draw up a lease or housing contract with specific terms and conditions. It’s important that you review this document carefully to ensure you understand and agree with all terms before signing. Once the document is signed, be sure you keep a copy of it on hand.
Before taking occupancy of the property, it is normal for the property manager to ask for a security deposit and the first month’s rent. The security deposit amount can vary, depending on the property, and is refundable. Within 30 days after your lease ends, your property manager should refund your security deposit as long as you meet the following criteria:
- You’re up to date on rent payments
- The property is returned to the property manager in the same condition as it was received
To ensure you receive your security deposit refund, it is important to take pictures and videos of the property prior to moving in. These pictures should document the condition of the property, including the floors and ceilings.
Tips for Moving In and Out
Tips for Moving In
After you have found a place to live and signed a lease, it is time to start planning for your move in. Below we have listed a few steps to help you prepare.
Set a move-in date
The first step to prepare for moving in is setting a move-in date. Normally, this date falls within the first few days of your lease. Note: You cannot move in any of your belongings until your lease begins.
Communicate with your roommate(s)
After a move-in date has been set, it’s important to communicate with your roommate(s) to coordinate times.
Communicate with your landlord
Let your landlord know the day and approximate time you intend to move into your new residence.
Set up a time to pick up keys
Before moving into your new place, you’ll need to pick up keys from the landlord. Arrangements should be made for the earliest pick-up time to ensure your move-in day runs smoothly.
Arrange for utility set up
It is the tenant’s responsibility to set up their utilities before moving in. Be sure to contact the utility companies to ensure you have gas, electric, water/sewer and cable/internet for when you move in. If you are not sure which utility company to contact, reach out to your landlord.
Arrange for moving transportation or services
Moving transportation and services should be made immediately after you determine your move-in date. This guarantees that transportation and services are available for the day you need them.
It’s important that you do not wait to pack until the last minute. We strongly encourage you to start packing a little at a time soon after signing a lease.
Bring the right supplies
On move-in day, some essentials to have on hand include tape, scissors, a box cutter, trash bags, cleaning supplies and a tool box.
Update your mailing address
If you are going to be staying at your new residence long term, it’s important to update your mailing address. This can be done by calling your local post office.
Tips for Moving Out
Moving out can be a very stressful. To assist you during this hectic time, we have listed a few tips to ensure a smooth process.
Notify your landlord
Before moving out, it is important to notify your landlord that you will be vacating the premises. Normally, a lease requires a tenant to inform the landlord within 30 days; however, in some cases a 60-day notice or more may be required. Check your lease ahead of time to be sure, and know that your notice must be in writing (not verbal).
Give your landlord a forwarding address
If you paid a security deposit, it is important to give your landlord a forwarding address. This way they know where to send your security deposit refund.
Clean your residence
Before moving out, you should thoroughly clean your residence. It should be left in the same condition it was when you moved in. If your property is not clean, your landlord can deduct money from your security deposit to cover damages and items that are not properly cleaned.
Always take photos of your residence after you have cleaned and moved all the furniture out to document the condition it is in. Be sure to record the date the photos were taken.
Drop off keys
After you have cleaned and moved all your belongings out of the residence, promptly return the keys to the landlord. This will need to be done by the end of the lease term.
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Student Housing Resource Guide
Designed for Cleveland Clinic-affiliated students, this guide includes helpful information such as factors to consider in your search, how to create a budget, questions to ask landlords, how to find a roommate, how to inspect a property, tips for moving in and out, and more.Download Guide Download Guide