By JULIANNE KUHN
As another semester begins, we settle into our new living arrangements, and many students settle into their own off-campus housing. While a change in residence can provide freedom and excitement, off-campus housing comes with its own set of challenges.
The first step to moving off campus is finding a place to live. This can be difficult, as many houses in the area that are rented by college students rarely go on the market. Ask early to see if anyone is planning on moving out in the upcoming year, and check on whether or not their landlord has a tenant already lined up.
Websites like Zillow can show available rentals in the Fredericksburg area, but keep in mind that not all landlords are willing to rent to college students. Additionally, the City of Fredericksburg does not allow more than three unrelated people to live together in a single-family home.
Once you have your new residence, it is critical to go on a walkthrough with the landlord to assess any damage to the house. Make a list of noticeable damage so both you and your landlord have a record of the damage that was there prior to your moving in. Your landlord should also make sure the property is up to code regarding health and safety. Appliances, plumbing, electricity and HV/AC should all be in working order. Any mold should be eradicated prior to move in, as further damage to the property can cause you to lose your security deposit, so be sure to care for your home. It belongs to someone else, so you should treat it as such.
However, while your landlord is required to keep the house up to code, there are unexpected responsibilities that come with being a renter.
“There is a lot more freedom to structure your home and your life how you want to, but there are a lot of hidden responsibilities that come along with it,” said senior business major Chelsea Kopf, who moved off campus for the first time this semester.
There are often new challenges with renting an off-campus residence that you may never have experienced before.
“We had our air condition break twice so far, and our locks just broke. Our house is older, so it’s been needing a lot of repairs lately that we have to take care of,” said Kopf.
While living off campus offers freedom from having a landlord, creating your own roommate agreement can be extremely helpful. Kopf’s roommate, junior psychology major Andrea Stegman suggests that outlining your expectations about noise, guests, cleaning, studying times, energy usage and other responsibilities can be beneficial to all those living in the house and keeps the environment comfortable for everyone.
Knowing who your neighbors are is also important, especially in the Fredericksburg community. Many families and non-students live in the area surrounding the university, and it is vital to respect them. Be a considerate neighbor, and if you plan on throwing a party or making any excessive noise, let them know. Violating the Fredericksburg Noise Ordinance is a class three misdemeanor, and having the police at your door during a party can cause more problems for you.
Keep in mind that any time you have friends over, you are responsible for your guests, their safety and actions. Be respectful of your neighbors and your community, and in return, they may respect you by asking you to turn the noise down instead of calling the police.
Equipped with these tips, you should have a peaceful transition into your new off-campus housing.