Each year “it” seems to happen earlier and earlier: Proactive students take the initiative in early fall to make informed decisions about off-campus living and contact Off-Campus Student Services for advice.

Those who are thinking about living off campus are invited to take advantage of two renter-education opportunities. Tips for renters also are listed below.

Schedule of renter-education events, 2013:

  • Annual Renter’s 101 student panel – 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12, in Room 126, John R. Roach Center for the Liberal Arts – Students currently renting in the neighborhood will share their experiences and offer advice to their peers about the search. Door prizes will include one for $500 toward a lucky student’s first month’s rent.
  • Student Tenant Education Program  – Noon on two Thursdays, April 18 and 25, location to be announced – These sessions serve as a more intensive tenant education with much greater detail. Some area landlords are even offering a security deposit discount to students who complete the program. Students must attend both sessions.

Tips for students who are getting a bit antsy and can’t wait until spring:

  • Slow down: There is no rush. Friends attending other schools already may have signed leases for next year, but that’s not necessary in the rental market around the UST campus. St. Thomas has an abundance of rental properties in its community (new ones are posted every day on the Off-Campus Housing website); in addition, students should consider on-campus housing. The process for Residence Life takes place in spring.
  • Don’t compare apples and oranges: Some people assume living off campus is cheaper than living on, but there are a lot more costs involved in living off campus than just rent. Be sure to include utilities and other expenses, as well as things that are hard to put a dollar value on such as security, proximity to campus, cleaning and other services.
  • Remember, don’t sign too soon: A lease is legally binding and, once signed, the renter is committed with little chance of getting out of the agreement.
  • Know the rules: Things such as St. Paul’s over-occupancy ordinance, which prohibits more than four unrelated individuals to live in a single unit, or the Social Host Ordinance, which can have a big affect on students living off campus; also, become familiar with St. Paul’s new Student Housing Registration restrictions and its potential impact. The St. Paul police and the city of St. Paul aggressively enforce the law, and the relevant zoning ordinances and safety codes. Although some people think that rules can be avoided by moving off campus, the UST Code of Conduct applies off campus as well as on.
  • Make a list and check it twice: Students and their potential roommates should sit down and talk about what is important to each one and where they are or are not willing to compromise.

Even though formal programs are set up for spring semester, Off-Campus Student Services is happy to help now. For more information email Josh Hengemuhle to schedule an appointment or stop by Off-Campus Student Services in Room 253, Anderson Student Center, to pick up a Renter Resources guide.