Guide to Off Campus Living
In addition to the information provided in the material above, the following provides additional information for successful off-campus living in the community. You may also view this guide on the DOSO website.
Neighborhoods are culturally diverse throughout the city of Troy and students have called many of them home while studying at RPI. Finding an apartment that is just right depends on a number of factors, one of which is determining what neighborhood you'd like to live in. Rensselaer is located on the "Hill" which is comprised of the Beman Park, Hillside, Congress Street and Mt. Ida neighborhoods. Being informed about the neighborhood is one step in the right direction to finding the right fit.
Being informed about the community's standards and services is also important. The Directory of Community Services and Information contains information about Property Maintenance, Dogs, Parking Regulations, Abandoned Vehicles, Building Permits, Nuisance Abatement, and important Troy telephone numbers. The City of Troy Web site has up-to-date information about city services, ordinances, and community meetings.
First-time renters sometimes take a lot for granted in the excitement of getting their first apartment - and the experienced renter may also when moving to a new city or town. There are several things individuals should always take into consideration before deciding to rent: budget; roommate; and apartment comparisons.
Determining the budget you have to work with will help you decide how much you can afford before signing a lease. You should consider that apartments do not always have cable or internet connections, as well as a number of other "amenities" that were available in student housing. The Monthly Budget (pdf) form will help you determine how much you can afford, to live successfully off-campus.
Finding the right roommate is also important. Before students come to RPI, Rensselaer requires that they complete a compatibility form to be paired with their first roommate. There are dozens of compatibility considerations to think about when choosing roommates. The Roommate Checklist (pdf) provides a short list of things you should sonsider when choosing a roommate.
The Apartment Hunting Checklist (pdf) is a third tool that will help lead to successful off-campus living. Not only does it provide a good summary of possible apartment amenities, but it also helps you remember what you've seen when you look at several apartments. This is a great tool to use to determine the best apartment for you and your roommates.
Before you sign your lease, you may want to take advantage of the freeRPI Student Legal Services, provided to Rensselaer students who have paid their activity fee. The Martin Law Firm administers the program, and among the many on-campus student services it provides are lease review and landlord disputes. The Martin Law Firm has developed the Lease Review Guidelines which are intended to help students understand the lease most landlords in Troy use, and their rights and responsibilities as tenants.
Another essential step in the process is documenting the condition of your apartment prior to moving in. Use the Move-In/Move-Out Checklist (pdf) to document pre-existing damage in your apartment, so that when it's time to move out, you will be able to prove and therefore be liable for only that damage caused by you and your roommates - and not the tenants before you. Be sure to have your landlord sign the document after the inspections, and keep the checklist in a safe place should you ever need proof during the term or at the termination of your lease.
Renter's Insurance is essential to a tenant's peace of mind. Your landlord will have insurance of the building in which you are living, but will not have any insurance on your belongings. If you only consider the replacement cost of your computer, should it be damaged or stolen, then this insurance is worth the investment. Call several insurance companies (including the company your parents use) to ask them to quote the insurance before you move in. Note that each tenant should have their own coverage - this is not a cost that you share with your roommate(s).
The Tenant's Rights Guide, a publication of the New York Attorney General's Office provides the basic rights of tenants in rental property throughout the state. The guide addresses Habitability and Repairs; Safety; Tenant's Personal Rights; Utility Services; Finding an Apartment; and Other Provisions.
- The laws of New York State specifically forbid discrimination in housing on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, sex, disability. or marital status (age, in private and publically assisted housing and land or commercial space). Today, the sale of all houses and apartments, and the rental of most housing accomodations fall within the jurisdiction of the New York State Division of Human Rights .