As another semester gets started at MU, many students are looking for a new place to get settled in away from campus. But don’t jump to sign a lease before knowing what you’re getting into. Dionne George, an off-campus student services coordinator for the Wellness Resource Center, has all the information you need to know before you sign a lease.
The Maneater: If a student is thinking about living off campus, where should they start?
Dionne George: The Wellness Resource Center is a great place for students to get more information before they even start looking at places. We have information on many of the apartment complexes in our off-campus living guide, as well as a number of other resources. I highly suggest students do their research before they make a big jump and sign the lease.
TM: What kind of research do you suggest students do?
DG: There are many things students can research so that when they do sign a lease they are fully aware of the property and the situation and they feel in control. For one thing, you really want to investigate the property. Does it look like it does in the pictures? Does anything seem to be falling apart? What is the policy on maintenance? These are just some of the property-type questions you should be asking. You’ll also want to investigate the landlord to see if they have a good reputation. Another thing many students don’t think about is whom they are going to be living with. For example, you might be moving in with your best friend, but do you really know how this person is when you are not there? If possible, observe their spending and living habits. How are they with money? Do you think they will be responsible with their share of the costs per month? Are they messy? Do they have annoying habits that might bother you? These questions are so important. You don’t want to ruin a friendship over a living situation.
TM: Say you’ve done your research, and you are ready to sign a lease. Now what?
DG: When you are ready to sign a lease, make sure you read over it thoroughly. Once you sign it, you are responsible for the stipulations listed in the lease. Make certain you are fully aware and agree with everything listed on it. It’s also a good idea to inspect the actual apartment you will be living in before you sign the lease, just to be sure you are getting exactly what you are signing for. Setting up a budget can also be a great help in making sure you are staying on track with your spending habits.
TM: Great. Is there anything else students can do to make sure they are ready before they sign a lease?
DG: Yes. The Office of Off-Campus Student Services will be holding an informational session 3-4:30 p.m. Feb. 6 in Leadership Auditorium. This session will include helpful hints for living off campus, and Student Legal Services will be on hand to answer questions as well. Presentations will be given on cost of properties, budget factors, utilities and parking and transportation. Students can also come by the Wellness Center to pick useful off-campus living property checklists, as well as more information on things to know before signing a lease.