When it’s time to move on from on-campus living, there are a few things that you have to consider. From utility bills to neighbor complaints, living off campus for the first time is no easy task. UWM’s Neighborhood Housing Office, or NHO, has a few pointers for when it is time to make the transition.
Megan Scheftner, a Community Outreach, assistant for Student Tenants, and COAST leader, sheds light on what we all know to be the main issue with living off campus.
“Either roommate problems or problems with their landlord that were caused by lack of communication,” said Scheftner. “You definitely need communication.”
So posting passive aggressive post-its, no matter how brightly colored, is not the best way to bring about peace with your roomies. Luckily enough, NHO has a resource for that too.
“One thing they can do is they can come talk to us,” Says Jake Arambel, another COAST leader. “If you can get everyone to come in and talk, we can do a roommate mediation session.”
Communicating with potential roommates is a huge deal when looking for a place. Whether it’s posting to NHO’s online roommate listings or through Facebook groups, talking before hand can reduce stress down the road. And boy can it get stressful! While a spacious yard or an amazing new porch can put any new tenant in high spirits; it often comes down to whom you are residing with and the issues that can arise.
“A lot of times, they are paying their rent and the landlord is being fair, but they have a roommate that’s not pulling their weight,” said Scheftner. “Not paying their stuff on time or they broke something and didn’t report it, or someone is living at their house illegally.”
NHO also offers a legal clinic should situations that require law mediation arise. Having open communication before signing a lease, or even signing one of NHO’s roommate contracts can help set the standard for things like extended over night guests and so on. Other things to keep in mind when looking for a new place are to shop around a bit. One of Scheftner and Arambel’s suggestions was too not sign the first lease you come across, and to actually check for any needed repairs before signing.
“A lot of student’s don’t know what to look for,” says Scheftner. “Things like cracks in the walls, or water pressure. Does the toilet work? You are allowed to ask for all that stuff when you are taking a tour.”
It may seem daunting, but signing your first non-dorm lease can be pretty easy. NHO has numerous resources both online or in person. So the next time you consider piling your roommates dirty dishes on their bed, or surprising your roommates with a huge, midweek party, try talking it out first.