Home sweet home

The sad truths of living off campus

Laura Romaniello / Art Director

Home sweet home. Not home-home, but like a second home. A student’s “Keene home” that they stay in while they go to school. Where they learn responsibilities by renting a house and living with only their roomates for a year.

In that home, they learn that they need to shut off the lights and TV before leaving, they have to keep up with dishes or else they pile up, they have to pay the electricity and Wi-Fi bills on time to make sure they build good credit, and lastly, they have to maintain a good relationship with their landlord or else living in that house could be hell.

The transition from living on campus to off campus isn’t easy.

Even though students are renting the house for a number of months, the accelerated process of finding that house and signing off on the lease can take only days.

Students are rushed into signing leases and looking at houses.

Most students look at less than three house before the realtor says, “So which one do you want?” The process is so fast and students feel pressured into places because realators are telling them, “You won’t find another five bedroom house in Keene,” or “I have another group of students looking at this house in three days so you need to make a decision about the house now.” Students need to take time and look at as many houses and apartments as they can because they will thank themselves in the long run.

After signing the lease for their first house, they wait a year before they can actually move in — only to find more surprises awaiting them. The toilet is broken, the walls have black mold, rodents are running around in the apartment — what happened? When the landlord doesn’t meet the students halfway, it can make living in that house so much more complicated than keeping up with their laundry. The lights don’t work, the kitchen roof is leaking, the doors aren’t locking — who do you call? The landlord. Get in contact with them, whether its calling, emailing, or showing up at their realtor office.

Having problems in the house can be very annoying, but it won’t get fixed if students don’t say anything. If a realtor is cutting edges and not showing up after a student has made multiple efforts to get in contact with them, it’s another story. But a landlord most likely doesn’t know every little thing going wrong in each of their houses.

It’s a student’s job to show them the issues they’re having and talk to them about it respectively. After trying to get in contact with the realtors and still no response, then a student has to seek other guidance.

Students can go to the City Hall to figure out if their house has passed inspection. Most houses are inspected and then fixed, but many are still pending. Pending means that there are things that need to be fixed in the house, but it is still “livable.”

After doing this, students can also reach out to the off-campus living advisors.

They will make sure that a student gets in contact with the realtors and things get fixed.

But in the end, none of this will happen if a student sits on their couch and just complains.

They have to take action. It is a student that has the right to enforce the contract they signed.

They are paying hundreds of dollars to get what they signed for. If a realtor is slacking off or doing things halfway, they need to realize the amount of power that a student has.

Let the realtor know that if they don’t fix the things they promised, other students could hear about it — encouraging others to stay away from those specific houses.

Living off campus is a great experience that most students will take advantage of. It’s a real world scenario that many students will also have to go through after graduation. As college students, they need to be respectful to the house (doesn’t every student want their security deposit back?) they live in and everyone they live around. Establishing a good relationship with their landlord is key, even though it can be very difficult. When in doubt about a situation, call the landlord and figure it out together.