Finding a suitable apartment and moving in are exciting but potentially stressful experiences. A few additional steps may make the difference in ensuring that your off-campus living experience is a pleasant one. When you move in, we recommend that you:
- complete the "move in" section of the Move In / Move Out Checklist (details below), so that it is clear what condition the apartment is in on the day you move in (you should try to get the landlord to complete this form with you and get them to sign the document);
- take dated photographs of any damage to the apartment;
- complete the Safety Checklist;
- familiarize yourself with important contact information;
- purchase renters' insurance; and
- ensure that you have emergency contact details for the landlord or manager which can be used if emergency repairs are required.
Additional information about local moving companies and furniture sales and rental is available on the OCS website under "Essential Services."
Once you move into the premises, inspect the unit carefully, preferably with the property owner/manager and document the condition of the property in writing. Use this form
or draw up your own, keep a copy for yourself and send one to your landlord. If the inspection is done by the two parties - you and your landlord - they should both sign it. Use the same form for checking out of the apartment at the end of your lease. If you have a camera, take pictures. Find a way to date the pictures. The day's newspaper in the picture is an easy way to do so.
As a tenant you may be responsible for making the necessary arrangements to get utility services. Leases vary as to which utilities are included in the rent. Heat (using gas, electricity or oil) often may be included in the rent. If not included in rent will most likely be your second-largest rental expense. Please consider that although the price of fuel has not increased significantly within the last year, fuel prices were already high and they may increase for the winter of 2010. See our budget sheet
online for a breakdown of expenses. Cold water is almost always the landlord's responsibility when you are renting an apartment and often the tenant's responsibility if you are renting a house. Tenants are always responsible for telephone service.
Contact information for various utility providers is available on the OCS website under "Essential Services."
As a tenant you can protect yourself against certain risks of financial loss by purchasing tenant's insurance. Some leases inform you that property owners/managers are not liable for damages to your personal property and allow you to decide whether you want to purchase such insurance; other leases require tenants to have it. Remember, a property owner's insurance policy for a rental property does not cover the tenant's personal belongings nor does it offer the tenant any liability coverage. Tenant's insurance provides protection against damage to or destruction of tenant's personal property, due to fire, smoke, vandalism and other causes. It also provides coverage against theft of personal property. Many policies include a liability clause, which applies to injuries or damages caused by the tenant, a member of his/her family or even a pet.
Types of coverage, premiums, minimum and maximum insured vary from company to company depending on size and location of the apartment, condition of the building, the number of unrelated people in the rental unit and other factors. Not many companies offer coverage to more than two unrelated people sharing an apartment or house. Premiums are quoted after you have answered quite a comprehensive list of questions. The information in this fact sheet can be used just as a starting point for your own research to find the most appropriate type of coverage. Many students obtain tenant's insurance through their parents' homeowner's insurance policies.
A list of agencies and insurance companies which offer tenant's insurance is available here