Practice defensive renting by checking out potential problems before signing

If you’re a University student searching for the perfect apartment or house for next year, you should make a checklist of criteria before starting the hunt, and once you find a place you like, there are still things to take into consideration.

First off, decide how close you want to be to campus. If you want peace and quiet on any given night, then you should broaden your range to places in the presidential neighborhood — where the president streets are — or somewhere in West or South Eugene. However, if you want to live close to campus, check out rentals in the West University, South University or Fairmount neighborhoods. Keep in mind there are more families living in Fairmount than there are in West or South University.

Also, factor in considerations such as whether you’ll have a car next year, and if you won’t, how close the nearest grocery store, restaurant and retail are and where the nearest bus stop is and where it goes. If you have a car, you need to consider parking. Not only is on-campus parking extremely limited, but so is parking in the neighborhoods surrounding the University.

Another thing to consider is the size of your future abode. Though everything off-campus is bigger than the shoeboxes on-campus where freshmen live, you’re still not going to live in the Taj Mahal. Studio apartments are not the same size as a one-bedroom, and cramming an extra person in a five-bedroom house might not be the wisest option.

It’s also important to set a budget before you start to look for apartments. When budgeting for your future place, remember to include things such as utilities apart from rent, and check with the landlord about what utilities are covered, if any. Some landlords cover nothing — not even garbage pick-up — and some landlords cover utilities including Internet and cable.

Be sure to also check out amenities that come with the apartment or house. Apartment complexes in the Kinsrow area have pools, gyms, furnished apartments and even tanning beds, but with some property managers you’re lucky to get a dishwasher. Another amenity that people take for granted when they’re living at home with mom and dad is laundry. Check to see if there are hook-ups for a washer and dryer, if there is a laundry room on site or if you’re going to have to find a laundromat.

Residence halls don’t allow pets besides fish in small tanks, but before you go and buy a kitten, keep in mind that many landlords and property management companies either don’t allow pets or will allow cats or small dogs with an additional deposit.

If you have the chance to inspect the apartment before you sign the lease, go for it. This will give you a better idea of the size of the apartment and give you an idea of what kind of furniture would be best suited for the space. For instance, some apartments can’t handle an entertainment center or a dining table the size of a pingpong table.

Once you do find an apartment or a house to lease for next year, there are still things that you should do.

Check all of the pipes. It doesn’t matter if it’s a gas or water pipe — leaks could do serious damage to your apartment and hurt your chances of getting back your security deposit if everyday leaks turn into something more. When you’re checking water pipes, remember to also examine the faucets, shower head and toilet. As you’re checking the pipes, remember to inspect windows and walls for mold and mildew; it’s a common problem here in the wet climes of the Pacific Northwest.



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