By Michelle Eigenheer–
Going to college at a metro university such as the University of Louisville can pose a challenge when it comes to student housing. Boxed in on all sides, it’s hard for U of L to spread out and build more student housing accommodations. Old Louisville, pushing against Bettie Johnson and Cardinal Towne, offers alternative housing options for students.
However, Cardinals looking for their own apartment must remember that the people who rent to students are running businesses and looking for profit. There are many things to look for to ensure that signing a year-long lease doesn’t turn into a year of residential hell.
Cartoon illustration by Michael Layman/The Louisville Cardinal
Here are some things to look out for when you rent:
If you’re renting from a management agency, check out their reviews.
Finding out the reputation of a property management company is important if you want to avoid stress in the long run. How fast does their maintenance team respond? Do they like to drop in unexpectedly? Do they have any questionable business practices? These are all important questions.
Consumer report websites such as angieslist.com will give you both good and bad opinions from real clients.
Angie’s List has a fee, but $2.75 will get you a month’s worth of review – Enough time to find your new home. You can also ask around and find some stories from people at U of L – Try posting something on Twitter or Facebook.
Flush the toilet.
Also, run all of the faucets, turn on the shower and check the electrical.
By running all of the faucets at the same time, you can make sure that the water pressure is good and you won’t have to deal with conditioner in your hair because your roommate decided to do dishes in the middle of your shower.
The electrical should be checked to be sure that it’s in good shape. Otherwise, you may have to deal with flipping a breaker every time someone tries to blowdry their hair, or even dealing with electrical fires from inadequate wiring.
Watch out for mold.
If you walk into an apartment and it smells musty, there might be a mold issue. A lot of the spaces in Old Louisville are just that – old. These houses have had decades to let mold settle into the walls and ceilings. If you see any discoloration in the drywall, you may want to steer clear. Be sure to check around any water sources: sinks, toilets, and especially showers. The ceilings are important to check, too. In multi-story buildings, leaks can occur and settle into the beams, creating a breeding ground for mold. You don’t want to spend a year breathing in spores that can not only aggravate allergies, but become toxic as well.
Check the sex offender registry.
Cities are dangerous places, and the University of Louisville is no exception. It’s important to set yourself up in the safest situation possible, so checking a sex offender registry should go on your to-do list so that you don’t end up living right on top of a convicted rapist. Websites like familywatchdog.us and kspsor.state.ky.us allow you to enter an address and view all registered sex offenders within your area, even labeling them by offense.
Don’t give out your bank information.
Many management companies offer deals to tenants if they sign up for a direct payment system, allowing the company to pull rent money directly from their bank accounts. While this may seem like a great idea, it’s not. You should never hand out access to your bank account. Doing this opens a do that may allow the company to scam you or take more money from you when your lease is up. If you do sign up for this service and something goes wrong, contact your bank immediately – they have ways of retrieving your money from the company.
Being on your own for the first time is a big step for some. It’s important to know what to watch out for when finding a new place to call home. Don’t let a good first impression trap you into a bad living situation.