Off Campus Housing Resources
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.
In partnership with UW-Whitewater, College Pads helps to assist students, faculty, and staff with their search for off-campus housing in Whitewater through the UW-Whitewater off-campus housing database. This database allows students to compare the largest selection of Whitewater apartments and houses, while also containing tools that assist students looking for roommates and subleases.
In partnership with the Whitewater Rental Association, NoMoreDorms.com helps to assist students search for off-campus housing in Whitewater through rental listings. The proprietor of the website is a UWW Alum who works closely with local landlords.
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:
- 704.3, Requirement of writing for rental agreements and termination.
- 704.05, Rights & duties of landlord and tenant in absence of written agreement to the contrary.
- 704.07, Repairs, untenantability.
- 704.17, Notice terminating tenancies for failure to pay rent or other breach by tenant.
- 704.21, Manner of giving notice.
* 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 https://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 has created a housing guide which actually includes contact information for local properties and pictures of some apartment faces.
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:
- When more than one person is on a lease, they typically are held “jointly and severally” responsible for rent and damages. In other words, if a roommate leaves, the other roommates may be held responsible for paying the full amount of the rent. If one roommate violates the lease, all roommates could be evicted from the property. Some landlords may not choose to hold all parties responsible, but most lease agreements give them this option.
- Some landlords insist on receiving one check for the property.
- Read your lease carefully or ask your landlord what their policy is.
- As a general rule, you can’t terminate your roommate’s tenancy, and your landlord will not mediate disputes between roommates.
- We highly recommend filling out a roommate agreement in advance. The purpose of such documents is to avoid disagreements down the road. The WSG guide and the Tenant Resource Center, both linked off this site, provide sample roommate agreements.
- Consider having a regular monthly meeting with all roommates to discuss bills, apartment usage, and any other concerns.
- Depending on circumstances, you may be able to add a roommate after you move in. Discuss the addition with your landlord. You will need to make sure the occupancy limit is observed. The landlord may ask that you both sign a new lease, which may include a rent increase. The landlord may increase rent immediately, rather than provide 30-day notice, in this case because of the new lease.
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:
- How easy is it for someone to enter your building?
- Are building and/or apartment doors safe and solid?
- Is there a safe intercom system or peepholes on doors?
- Do the windows lock securely?
- What kind of area is the building in, and what kind of pedestrian traffic can you anticipate around it?
- Does it have adequate exits in case of fire?
- Does it have adequate smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors?
- How safe will it be for you to get to and from your parked car?
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:
- If a fire extinguisher is not provided, ask for one.
- Avoid overloading outlets. Use power strips with built-in breakers.
- Never leave an open heat source unattended: stoves, candles, incense, irons, etc.
- Make sure your smoke detectors are functioning properly.
- Don’t underestimate the danger of candles or incense. If you burn them, do so on a safe surface that will not burn if the candle burns down. Do not set them in places where they may come in contact with pillows, sheets, drapes, towels, etc. Do not set them where they may be exposed to wind.
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:
- Discuss your problem with WSG’s legal counsel.
- File a complaint with the Bureau of Consumer Protection: http://datcp.wi.gov/Consumer/Consumer_Complaints/index.aspx
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