Making the change to living off-campus from living in dorms can be a daunting transition for many students. On Thursday, Nov. 1, the Office of Student and Community Relations hosted an off-campus housing fair in the Student Center from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Students had the opportunity to speak with area landlords to learn more about available off-campus housing. Students could also speak with representatives on the Student Association regarding their eligibility to live off-campus, as students need 40 credits by the start of any spring term to be able to move off campus the following fall term, according to the Keene State College website.
Living off-campus can be different from the on-campus dorms underclassmen are used to. Multiple landlords were present at the fair to offer information about rental prices, utilities and amenities.
Students can avoid any rental issues, electrical malfunctions, mold problems or any other complication by looking at rentals listed on the KSC website. For a rental to be listed on this website they are required to pass the voluntary inspections of off-campus housing. These inspections are free to students and conducted by city Code Enforcement. Landlords who were at the fair were ones who have already passed the inspections at all of their properties.
Coordinator of Student and Community Relations Robin Picard said, “We do want students to start using the Places4Students webpage. The college web page only advertises houses that have passed the inspection. The housing inspection program is about three years old, but the fact that landlords can’t advertise or promote their properties on campus is new to this year.”
If students who are already living in their rental properties experience any complications, they can still get an inspection after the fact. Picard said they should contact the City of Keene for an inspection, but that she can also step in to support them.
“The first thing students should know is they do have a place to report this and that is with the City of Keene, but sometimes students don’t know if they’re going to get their landlord in trouble or they don’t know what it means to be in touch with the City, so they can come through me and what I’ll do is I’ll work directly with the City to get an inspection in the house right away,” Picard said.
This information is important to have because this semester, there has been an increase in issues in student rentals. Picard said it may not be due to an actual increase in complications, but that students are more comfortable now with seeking assistance. According to a report regarding the Voluntary Inspections, a poll of 544 of the student rentals in the past two years revealed that 83 needed electrical repairs, 64 needed smoke/carbon monoxide detector installation or repair and 54 needed infestation, structure, heating or security related repairs. Those are the most common issues.
How a landlord deals with these issues varies. One landlord in Keene who is in charge of Pearl Street Properties, Shana Davis, said she takes care of any issues her tenants have either the day of or the next morning.
“I only run one building with two apartments. Because I have so few tenants I really have the time to tend to those issues right away,” said Davis.
Jeanne Longobardi is a senior who is living off-campus this year. She said that having problems get fixed in rentals is usually a matter of urgency, but that landlords are typically efficient with getting the job done.
“If there’s something urgent that needs to be fixed, they definitely take care of it right away. I think [that it’s] important to realize that there’s over 100 properties that they have and there are definitely more urgent situations than when our washer and dryer is having issues compared to a roof leaking or something like that,” Longobardi said.
Longobardi’s house includes a basement that her and her roommates are not permitted to use due to the terms of their lease. It needed to be inspected for safety by an electrician and the Keene Fire Department. Longobardi said her landlord was professional about making sure the space was safe and informing the residents of when inspections were taking place.
When it comes to living off-campus, Longobardi said communication is key: “I definitely would try to reach out to people that have the same landlord as the places that you’re looking at and see what they have to say about their landlord and how they go about fixing things. Their opinion is going to be the most honest.”
Rachel Vitello can be contacted at