COLLEGE STATION — College students who are looking for an apartment or house to rent this fall should first check with friends and relatives, says a family economics specialist.
“Friends and relatives may know someone who has rental property or hear about a house or apartment for rent,” said Dr. Joyce Cavanagh with the Texas Agricultural Extension Service. “Also, bulletin boards in supermarkets, stores, Laundromats, churches, and schools often have notices of vacant apartments.”
Before the search begins, a student should figure out what is affordable in terms of rent, utility charges, tenant’s insurance, and other housing related expenses, she said. Then, look for housing within that price range.
Housing or residential life offices on campuses often have listings of rental units available, Cavanagh said. Students also can check offices of apartment management, property management, and licensed real estate firms listed in the telephone book.
A fee-charging rental referral agency is not recommended, she said. Many times all you pay for is a listing of apartments that are advertised in the newspaper or that are already rented.
“If you must use such an agency, ask the Better Business Bureau if there have been any complaints reported against the agency,” Cavanagh said. “If you cannot find information on that company, ask the representative for the names of some of their other clients you can talk to about their experiences.”
Individuals should find out as much as possible about an apartment from the advertisement and a telephone call to the landlord, she said. This will help weed out the ones which do not meet your needs and save unnecessary trips to look at them. A person should ask about the rent, what utilities are included in the rent, if parking is available, what deposits are required, and whether pets are allowed.
If the answers to these questions fall within your budget and criteria, make an appointment to meet the landlord and see the apartment, she said.
Cavanagh says most problems experienced by tenants can be avoided by:
* Examining the apartment (or house) on the outside to see if there are enough off-street parking spaces, night lighting around the apartment, a laundry room and whether the pool and recreation room are in good shape.
* Making sure the apartment has adequate space for your needs, that it’s in good condition, and the location and amenities justify the rent.
* Visiting with other tenants to find out how quickly the landlord make repairs, whether there have been problems with vandalism, burglaries or other crimes. Also, ask about disputes with the landlord, find out tenants’ general impressions of the apartment management and if the landlord sprays for insects.