Off-Campus Living Questions & Answers

Living off campus with more freedom comes with great responsibility. There are some major lifestyle adjustments and budgeting requirements that differ from living at home or in a dormitory. You’ll be responsible for upholding your lease agreement, maintain your household, and more than likely have to maintain relationships with one or more roommates.

It’s great to get help from a trusted source like parents, the university and friends but you may need more help to find the right place off-campus. We know it can be a challenge to organize roommates and search for an apartment in between your classes, social gatherings, extracurricular activities and jobs. Fortunately, Off Campus Pads has got you covered to handle the transition to more independence.

When to Start Looking for Off Campus Housing

Many for the popular neighborhoods around your university or college area will start pre-leasing as early as October for the following academic year (example: signing a lease in the previous year for and lease starting on September 1st of the following year). A majority of students will continue to looking for housing well into winter and spring semester.

Off Campus Pads offers direct assistance from knowledgeable leasing agents that provide you with answers about the rental process and access to the largest listing database in Boston and beyond. If you are looking for an apartment or even a house to share with roommates, we have the best listings to accommodate your housing needs.

The Benefits of Living Off Campus

We know that living off campus comes with more responsibilities as well as certain freedoms than living on campus. Furthermore, the financial savings of living in an apartment versus a dormitory can be substantial. Over 70% of students in Boston area colleges and universities live off campus and OCP is here to assist in finding housing as well as making the adjustment to off-campus living. The agents found on OCP will provide you with information about the rental process and introduce you to resources to make your transition. We can help prepare you for whatever off-campus living throws at you.

Searching for Apartments on Off Campus Pads

OCP provides available apartments and houses for rent in Boston and surrounding areas. This website provides information such as location, pricing, photos, and amenities about each listing. Proximity to campus, rental cost, access to public transportation, amenities, and roommates, may all be factors to consider when selecting a place to live off campus.

We have made it easy to locate your apartment listings by proximity to your campus area with our map feature and always have friendly agents available to take your call. It is important to determine your budget and roommate agreements for housing off campus to determine the best off-campus housing based on needs and priorities.

Planning for Rental Expenses

The upfront cost of renting an apartment is the deposit and agent fee (payable by either tenant or property owner). A deposit of one month’s rent is required with applications to be considered for tenancy. Landlord and property management companies also typically require last month’s rent and security deposit (equal to 3 months’ rent). A majority of first-time renters with no records of income and a limited credit history are required to get a co-signer to secure their financial liability for the lease agreement. Find out more on the Co-Signer Information page.

According to your financial award package, students often use their financial aid to pay for rent, utilities, groceries, or other living expenses. You should speak with financial aid advisors to confirm the amount of financial aid you will be receiving as this may dictate the monthly rent you are able to afford.

Budgeting for Off-Campus Life

It is important to budget for living expenses because rent is typical due on the 1st of every month. The key is keeping track of the rent due along with additional expenses that may include utilities, transportation, food and other personal expenses. It’s easy to circle the 1st of each month for rent and utilities but it’s harder to know which day you’re going to run out of toilet paper.

Whether you use an app on your smart phone or an excel spreadsheet, the key is to be honest with yourself and track all your expenses. After that it’s all about discipline and keeping to your budget. Take a couple months to learn the regular expenses for living off campus and use that to create a reasonable budget.

Apartment Lease Information

A lease is a binding legal agreement – failure to hold up your end of the lease can have serious financial and legal consequences. This is reason why most landlords and management companies require a co-signer to guarantee leases.

The lease terms for most apartments/houses in Boston require a 12 month lease while others may allow you to sign a shorter term such as 6-9 months. Many students who do not plan on staying throughout the summer month will look for someone to take over their lease for the remaining months of the term (sublease). If you move before the end of the lease term at no legal fault of the landlord, you may be legally responsible to pay for the remainder of the lease. Most landlords and management companies will allow subletting with tenant screening and a sublease agreement (check with your agent and landlord).

Most landlords use a standardize lease document with housing regulations for state of Massachusetts. Read the lease carefully and be sure you understand all the details and rules, especially items in the addendum. It is important to voice any circumstances that may require revising the lease addendum, like issues considering parking, pets and property area access (like a yard or deck).

Why Renter’s Insurance is Important

The owner’s property insurance does not cover your personal property. Renter’s insurance covers your personal assets based on your policy and terms. If you cannot afford to replace your belongings if they are damaged, lost, or stolen, then you should look into buying a policy. Most rental insurance policies are affordable and offer the most benefit in case an incident occurs.

If renters are still on their parent/guardian’s insurance, there are inexpensive policies can be added. You can purchase personal property insurance from many insurance agencies. It is always a good idea to prepare for the unexpected, and renter’s insurance is a great way to have peace of mind.

Coordinating Your Roommates

Searching for a place that meets all everyone’s needs can be stressful so it is important to stay organized throughout the process. If possible, it is best to bring your roommate or as many members of the group together to view apartment / house listings during a showing to make a unanimous decision on an apartment. Failing to bring the group together can ruin the chances of getting that perfect place and losing out to another offer. Your agent will coordinate the applications process but is important to make sure everyone is on board, and more importantly, has their share of the deposit to take the property off the market.

Communication is the key to any successful relationship so outlining each other’s living requirements, financial obligations and general house rules is always smart. After signing the lease, roommates should create basic guidelines for paying and splitting up rent and utilities, sharing space, and cleaning the shared space. Be considerate and try to create some ground rules for friends visiting and quiet times for studying. Showing the ability to compromise will create a better living environment for all roommates.

Leasing Agreement with Your Landlord

Every landlord will expect you to abide to the housing rules based on the lease agreement. It’s your responsibility to pay rent on time and to abide all of the terms outlined on the lease. The best references for future apartments come from tenants that are considerate of neighbors and take care of unit appliances and fixtures. It is also important to find out about your neighborhood parking guidelines if you have a vehicle.

The deposits that landlords require are designed to reimburse the owner for any damage to the unit or for failure to pay rent. At the end of the tenancy, the owner must return the deposit plus interest or submit an itemized statement regarding the any part of the deposit that has been withheld. In the event that any full damages are not recovered in deposit additional legal action can be taken in accordance to the lease terms. Your lease agreement will clearly reflect how all deposits will be used or held. The lease and addendum will also state whether the tenants and/or landlord is responsible for paying heat, electricity, and water bills.

How to Decorate Your New Apartment

We all want to make where we live our own, to make it a home. Some landlords will allow let you paint as long as it is returned to the original state before moving. Others do not allow painting or add fixtures because it creates issues when restoring walls when your lease finishes. This doesn’t mean you have to live in a sterile box.

You can add wall decals, posters, hang fabrics, and other affordable alternatives that won’t damage the walls. Finding quick and creative decoration ideas is easy on the internet using websites like Pinterest, Instructables, and other do-it-yourself hubs. You can find new ways to express yourself and your new off campus pad without breaking your lease agreement rules.