Five Steps to Moving Into Student Housing (Part 2): The Countdown!

21 Feb

You’ve done it!  You have finally found the perfect place to live next semester.  The stress is over and the endless phone calls are done.  So go ahead, stand up and do your victory dance; you deserve it! 

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(However, if you haven’t found that perfect fit, or don’t know where to start, check out my blog entry last week about Five Steps to Finding Student Housing Part 1.) 

Now what?  If you’re living in an apartment or house, then there are actually quite a few things you should take care of before settling into your new place to avoid extra charges and make the moving transition go smoothly…

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1) Immediately: Read the lease carefully.  When you sign the lease, you are agreeing to everything written on that piece of paper, so don’t just skim over the words!  I found some great advice about this in the University of Arizona Off-Campus Housing Guide (if you need a copy, we have some extras in the Student Affairs Outreach Office, Nugent 15D).  Before you sign the lease, they recommend that you know. “(1) The total amount of the security deposit cannot be more than one and one-half month’s rent. (2) Cleaning and redecorating charges are not part of the security deposit.  But if those charges are nonrefundable, the landlord must state that fact in writing.  If it is not in writing, these charges cannot automatically be withheld when you move out. (3) Make sure the charges you pay at the beginning of your tenancy are clearly explained in your lease or rental agreement” (pp. 23).  Don’t get tricked into paying more than you have to!  Read the fine print (see example below) and if you don’t understand something, speak up and ask plenty of questions.

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2) One month before move-in: Call the utility companies.  Unless all utilities are included in rent, chances are it is up to you to set up electricity, water, Internet, and cable.  You often have to put a deposit down for utilities if you are a new customer and don’t have a record with the provider. The utilities will need to go under someone’s name and credit card, and that person will be responsible for paying the bill.  Then, each roommate will pay that person the average utility fee for each month.  Make sure the person who pays the bill is responsible to avoid any late charges.  Don’t forget, sometimes these companies are backed up for inspections or turning on the gas during move-in season. It could take a while for them to process your request, so don’t procrastinate.  I was unaware of this last August when I moved into my apartment and almost got fined fifty dollars by the leasing office because the electricity was being billed to them instead of me.  Don’t let that happen to you — you don’t want to be taking cold showers for a week until your gas is turned on!

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3) A few weeks before move-in: Make a list of necessary household items.  Is your house / apartment furnished?  Are a microwave, washer, and dryer included?  Make a list of everything you’ll need, from utensils and dishware to a kitchen table and chairs (example list below).  Create a Google Docs Excel spreadsheet of these items and share it with your roommates, then have everyone type their name next to the items they are able to bring. This will give you a clear idea of what everyone already has, and which things you will need to buy.  From there you can decide if you will split up the cost of these new items, or if you want to divvy up the purchases and share the items for household use.  My roommates and I all went on a huge shopping spree together for apartment items before we moved in.

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4) One week before move-in: Make a list of roommate household chores.  No one wants to be that messy roommate who leaves his or her stuff everywhere.  And no one wants to be the roommate that constantly has to clean up after everyone. What I find works best is if each person has an assigned weekend where they clean the house / apartment. Each weekend someone will be responsible for dusting, vacuuming, washing the dishes, etc.  Another option is if each person has a different job each month and the jobs rotate.  Make sure that the jobs are equal in work though, for example someone taking out the trash should have an additional job, since compared to someone cleaning the bathrooms, the overall work is less.  Create a list of jobs and dictate who is responsible for each one, then pin this list on the refrigerator so no one ever forgets what they need to do (see example below).  If everyone completes their assigned duties, then your apartment will be as clean as Monica’s vacuum!

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5) Day of move-in: Inspect the condition of the apartment / house.  Do all the appliances work?  Are there any holes in the wall?  Is the carpet stained?  Most landlords should provide a rental inspection checklist for you to go over (see example below). Be sure to obtain a copy of this inspection checklist that includes the date of the inspection. Just like when you rent a car, you are responsible for any damages that occur while you are living there.  Make sure to take note (and take pictures) of anything wrong with the house / apartment besides normal wear and tear so you don’t get charged for it at the end of your lease. Everything should be cleaned for you before your move-in date; if something is unacceptably dirty, let the landlord know immediately. Be sure to inspect every corner.

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Hopefully, these tips have helped to smooth the moving transition into your new home! If you have any more questions about off-campus student housing, TWEET us @WildcatConnect with #UAStudentHousing.

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— Kaeyln

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