If you have a college student that lives on campus, it’s inevitable that they will come to you at some point and ask to move off campus. What’s the draw? They are moving toward final independence and adulthood. What are the drawbacks? They will be taking on added responsibility AND that means you will as well.
Moving off campus into their first apartment can cause some of those “pull your hair out” moments. If your student lives in a college town, it might be easier. Most landlords in college towns know the downfalls of renting to college students (yes…there are downfalls). College students are not the best tenants. They tend to be irresponsible with property and there are the inevitable roommate issues that can cause one or more of the tenants to jump ship and abandon the lease agreement.
Here are a few tips from a parent who has “been there and done that” in the hope that you won’t make the same mistakes I did:
- If the landlord wants a co-signer (parent) on the lease, READ THE FINE PRINT. Read every single line in that lease agreement. If the other roommates break the lease, are you responsible for paying their portion of the rent? Is it your responsibility to find a replacement to sublet until the lease runs out? Will you be charged beyond the deposit fee if certain things in the apartment are not left as they were when your college student moved in?
- Talk with your college student about their responsibility to live up to their commitment. A lease is a contract. Make them understand that they are making a commitment for the term of the lease to pay the rent on time, keep the property in good condition, and take responsibility for getting along with the roommates.
- Be prepared to pay a hefty deposit. Most landlords know that college students aren’t the best tenants. They tend to be messy, break things, drink and throw parties. Because of this, the deposits required protect them from having to shell out money once the tenants move out. Most landlords in college towns will charge a hefty deposit, plus 1st and last month’s rent IN ADVANCE.
- Walk through the apartment WITH your college student BEFORE they rent it and before they move in. The only thought in their mind is this: “I’m moving off campus and won’t this be cool.” They don’t see the size of the rooms, the condition of the apartment itself, or think about location, parking or amenities. It’s up to you to help them evaluate their first place and make a logical decision based on price, location and amenities. On move in day, mark every single blemish that you might see on the checklist – this will protect you when they move out.
- Encourage ALL the roommates to establish some RULES before they move in together. This is THE MOST IMPORTANT piece of advice I can give you. They all need to talk about their expectations and how they see the living arrangement. Are roommates allowed to have their significant others sleep over (yes… this is an issue)? What happens if someone isn’t pulling their weight (dishes, cleaning, etc.)? What are the rules for guests – especially if visiting from out of town? Ask every question that might arise and agree to the rules as a group.
- Don’t assume that the “friends” they move in with will remain friends. There are countless stories of best friends moving in together and not remaining best friends. Living together (off campus) causes added stress and pressure. When they are living together on campus, there are RA’s to settle disputes. If that doesn’t work, they can switch rooms. When disputes arise, and they will, there is no place to escape. The problems only escalate and are magnified when you are living with a roommate that was once your best friend. Encourage your college student to think long and hard before moving in with their best friend.
Today’s blog comes from guest blogger Suzanne Schaffer. Suzanne Shaffer is the founder of Parents Countdown to College Coach and creator of the Parents Countdown to College Toolkit. As a parent herself, she offers unique advice to parents who are navigating the college maze with their college-bound teens. Her blog offers tips and advice from her vast archive of past experience and her expansive list of experts in the field of college admissions.