During the past few years, the campus area has seen an increase in construction of upscale student apartment complexes. Increased development has meant that marketing for the new units has been intense. In years past, students tended to withhold decisions about housing for the following academic year until spring or summer, but students are now being pressured to sign leases much earlier.
Living off campus is a popular option for students returning to the University for their second year, but it is not the only option. For many students, a natural next step is making the transition from a shared room in a “freshman hall” to a single room in one of the residence halls that houses older students. The University also has several buildings offering apartment-style living, that allow students to have the independence of maintaining their own residence while also providing the security and guidance of residence hall accommodations and staff. Students who currently live in residence halls will receive information and instructions for re-applying for on-campus housing options when they return to campus for spring semester.
Making a commitment to a lease in a neighborhood beyond campus includes more responsibilities than most students have ever undertaken. It establishes a relationship with a landlord and roommates that students cannot simply walk away from. If plans change, and a student decides not to return to school, the lease is still valid.
Before students sign a lease, they can take the contract to University Student Legal Services (USLS) in the West Bank Skyway. USLS is funded by the Student Services Fee, and students can receive legal guidance for most issues, including lease reviews, at no charge.
USLS partners with the Minnesota Student Association and with Student and Community Relations to provide workshops on legal rights and responsibilities for renters. The workshops are free and will be scheduled during late January and February. For information on the workshops, as well as to find a Tenant Resource Guide developed by USLS, see usls.umn.edu.
Live on campus or off?
Parents and students may want to discuss the following before making a decision about next year’s living arrangements:
- The overall monthly cost, including rent, food, utilities, parking, transportation.
- Roommate compatibility.
- How will roommates handle household responsibilities?
- Are all roommates committed to a full-year contract?
- Students should not sign a lease unless they have seen and inspected the exact apartment they will rent.