This is a compilation of resources and information that may assist you in deciding whether or not to move off-campus. If you decide to move off-campus, these resources may help you do so wisely. University Housing does not recommend any particular off-campus vendors/landlords. We have provided educational information and links to other sites that appear to provide helpful information about renting. Please view all websites critically and at your own risk. Make sure the information you read is relevant to the city and county in which you hope to rent. We simply hope to provide you with information to make educated decisions about your experience.
Warning: Do not obligate yourself to living off-campus until you have met the qualifications to move off-campus or have had your request for exemption approved! You will not be released from your obligation to live on-campus just because you have also obligated yourself to paying an off-campus lease.
What's The Law?
* Your lease is a binding legal contract. Read it thoroughly, and get help if you don’t understand something. Significant verbal promises by the landlord, especially for repairs, should be included in writing in the lease.
* View Wisconsin Statute 704, “Landlord & Tenant” on the Wisconsin Legislature site (you can download the Statute on PDF)
* Wisconsin Statute 704 highlights:
* Wisconsin Administrative Code Chapter ATCP 134 also applies to landlord-tenant relations.
* Expensive fines may be associated with disturbing the peace, possession of alcohol by a minor, sale of alcohol to a minor, operating a bar without a license, and other violations.
* County/City stuff?
Costs To Live Off-Campus
Off-Campus Living Costs - This is a worksheet you can fill out to plot your costs to move off-campus.
Meal Plan Options
Visit http://www.uww.edu/uc/hawkcard/meal-plans to explore the meal plan options that are available to off-campus students. While you may live off-campus, you’ll still likely be on campus frequently for classes, group meetings, or athletic events!
Off-campus Living: Resources
The Tenant Resource Center operates out of Madison, WI, and provides some excellent guides for the prospective renter. Please that while the service is available to all Wisconsin residents, some sections of the site apply only to Madison.
The Tenant Resource Center’s Housing Mediation Service can mediate disputes between tenants and landlords, roommates, or neighbors. Visit their web site and click on “The Housing Mediation Service,” or use the phone number listed here.
Tenant Resource Center
1202 Williamson Street, Suite A
Madison, WI 53703
Housing counseling: 608/257-0006
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection website includes fact pages on several topics. Check out their site below and look under “Housing,” where you will find several renting-related fact sheets.
Whitewater Student Government also retains legal counsel which students may utilize for legal consultation. Call WSG to set up an appointment 262/472-1166
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection’s Bureau of Consumer Protection can be contacted.
PO Box 8911
Madison, WI 53707
The Fair Housing Agency can be contacted.
Department of Industry, Labor and Human Relations
Equal Rights Division
PO Box 8928
201 East Washington Avenue
Madison, WI 53708
To the property owner:
The property owner should give you a check-in form when you move in. Complete the form thoroughly and accurately—it may be crucial in getting your security deposit back.
You will have primary responsibility for overseeing the maintenance of the rented property. Promptly notify the landlord of any problems or necessary repairs. Regularly inspect plumbing and electrical fixtures to be sure they are working safely. Keep the unit clean and free of debris that could cause damage or attract rodents or insects. Dispose of garbage properly according to the landlord’s instructions. Follow any rules of your rental agreement.
Some properties also require tenants to take a role in snow removal, lawn mowing, or other outside maintenance activities.
To the community:
Apartments are typically embedded in residential areas. You have neighbors both within the apartment structure itself as well as in other homes and apartment buildings around you. It is every owner or renter’s responsibility to respect their neighbor’s rights to safety, privacy, and reasonable quiet. Keep the visible areas of your unit attractive and clean. While you may consider your rental property a temporary stop, some members of your community have invested in the same neighborhood for years, and see it as a part of their “American dream.”
Before You Rent
It is unwise to rent a property that you have not inspected yourself. Also ask for a copy of the lease in advance, and read it carefully. Don’t be pressured into signing or paying for anything that appears suspicious.
Your rights & responsibilities:
Some roommate issues to consider:
What To Expect From An Apartment/Inspecting The Apartment
http://tenantresourcecenter.org/landlord_entry (Landlord entry)
Check out WSG’s sample repairs checklist: http://tenantresourcecenter.org/repairs_in_wisconsin
*The majority of apartments do not allow pets. For more information check out http://tenantresourcecenter.org/pets_and_service_animals
When checking out an apartment, answer these questions:
Be cautious when posting your name on your mailbox. Do you want everyone who sees the mailboxes to know exactly where you live, and whether or not you live alone?
Keep track of your keys, and ask your landlord to change your locks if you lose them.
Things to keep in mind in regard to Fire safety:
Many people consider renter’s insurance to avoid the costs associated with replacing property in the apartment or of someone being injured in the apartment. Some landlords require renter’s insurance. Be sure to discuss in detail with an insurance agent what items are covered and what events they are covered under—theft, fire, accident, water leaks, etc. Most major insurers provide renter’s insurance, and may provide discounts if you also receive other insurance through them. Once you have coverage, use a camcorder to record your property. Save receipts for items that are insured to simplify the claim process.
Repairs To Your Residence
Generally, the landlord is required to maintain a safe, habitable dwelling, protected from the elements and provided with adequate heat and hot water. All electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilation, elevators, or other supplied appliances should be maintained in good working order.
Landlords do not need to make changes for purely aesthetic reasons. They are not required to fix damage caused by you—if they do repair it, they may charge you. Light bulbs and batteries for smoke detectors are your responsibility. Landlords are generally required to clear parking lots, but not your individual car from snow accumulation.
Keep a written record of all contact you have with your landlord regarding problems, big or small. Note the who, what and when of your communication.
If you don’t get a response, first try talking to someone higher up in the chain of command. Put your request in a specific written letter. Next, repeat your letter and cc: the city/local department relevant to such concerns. If you remain unsatisfied, seek legal counsel (consider WSG’s free legal counsel).
Subletting Your Residence
Subletting is when another renter takes over your individual rental obligation (or some portion of it) for some length of the lease period. Some landlords have specific rules or fees associated with subletting. Since the primary lessors are still responsible for the property, they should only sublet with someone they trust, and put the sublet agreement in writing.
http://tenantresourcecenter.org/ending_your_lease (Ending lease/ Subletting)
When You Feel Wronged By Your Landlord
Your first option should be to work directly with your landlord. After that, consider the following:
BestColleges.com has an online Student Renters Guide with information about transitioning to off campus living with details to consider during the process. Click on the link to check out the information