Living Off Campus? BBB Has Tips For College Students

Columbus, OH – The fall semester is just around the corner for 50 plus college campuses in Central Ohio.. Students are beginning to pack up and move, and for many who aren’t living in campus housing, that means living off campus with a landlord for the school year.

Whether you’re living alone for the first time or moving in with roommates, it’s important to understand your rights and responsibilities as a tenant and review the lease again prior to moving in. Better Business Bureau has tips to help students be successful while renting.

Before You Move In

  • Know your cosigners. Students will often combine friend groups or ask an acquaintance to live with them in order to fill a house. Make an effort to speak with and learn about your cosigners before you live in a shared space.
  • Figure out how you are going to pay your bills (utilities, cable, gas, etc). It may be that each resident is in charge of paying a different bill and then lets the others know how much they owe them. Paying bills can be complicated and stressful, so developing a plan early on is beneficial.
  • Determine how you’ll handle the cleaning. Who will be in charge of what? It could be helpful to make a cleaning schedule giving each house member a different duty.
  • Discuss rules regarding guests. What times are appropriate for visitors?

Moving Into an Apartment or House

  • Document your new home’s move-in condition. Note every flaw or defect on your move-in condition form so that you aren’t held responsible for those damages later.
  • Take photos of your apartment/house. Before you bring anything in, take photos of the floors, walls, appliances, windows and anything else you may be held liable for after you move out. The photos will help you have documentation available if a dispute were to arise between you and the landlord after moving out.
  • Keep a copy of your lease in a safe place that can easily be referenced.
  • Meet with your landlord and discuss lawn care expectations. How often are they going to mow the lawn, and will they supply salt and help shovel in the winter? What will you be responsible for?
  • Familiarize yourself with Ohio’s Tenant/Landlord Rights and Obligations.

Going on Vacation or Away for Break

  • Notify your landlord that you will be away, and let them know how long. They will need to know how to reach you if there is a problem, and can make sure to keep an eye on your apartment/home.
  • Leave your curtains opened to the amount you’d usually have them while  at home. If they are completely open, anyone can clearly see no one is home. If they are closed, your home could look suspicious and your landlord would not be able to see inside if there is a problem.
  • Unplug appliances including your television, toaster, and desktop computer if you have one. This will protect your appliances from power surges and help save power. If you are going to be gone for an extended amount of time, like on a holiday break or vacation, consider taking your valuables with you. Do not leave laptops or other expensive electronics behind unattended. If possible, take televisions with you as well if you are going to be away for a while.
  • Don’t leave your lights on. Your electric bill will be high and lights on at all hours of the night may look a little strange. Renters can consider purchasing a light switch timer that can be programmed to turn your lights on and off automatically. That way, if you forget to turn off your lights before leaving or going to bed, they will shut off automatically after a certain amount of time – saving energy and money.

If you are searching for last minute living arrangements, be able to identify the red flags of a rental scam:

  • The deal sounds too good to be true.
  • The landlord is located elsewhere and prefers to only communicate via email.
  • The landlord requires a substantial deposit before handing over the keys or even showing the property.
  • The landlord discloses the actual location of the property and won’t provide an address.
  • The landlord asks the renter to wire money.

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About BBB
For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 167 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Central Ohio, which was founded in 1921 and serves 21 counties in Central Ohio.

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