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The Renting Process
You can search for housing here! Yale off campus housing provides a listing service available to all members of our Yale Community.
When to start looking for Housing
Here are some factors to consider when looking for housing:
- Since most programs start in the fall, housing options in New Haven tend to become competitive in the summer months.
- Although new listings are received year-round, we receive the majority of our listings beginning March through August.
- If you have a car and don’t mind commuting, consider living in one of the nearby towns surrounding New Haven. Housing options tend to be less competitive in these areas.
How long will it take to find housing?
If you are looking for housing during the summer months, you can expect to find a place in one-two weeks. Please keep in mind however that options are greatly reduced as the fall semester approaches. If you are looking for housing during the academic year, please expect the search to take a little longer since the number of listings is typically lower than during the summer months.
Types of Housing Off Campus
Our listings include full apartments, houses, rooms, efficiencies, condos, room shares, and sublets and homes and condos for sale. Most are available for a long-term rental, while others are available for short term use (180 days or less). Our database allows you to select rentals as well as properties that are for sale.
Quality of Housing
Because the quality of housing in the New Haven area varies greatly, you should never sign a lease for a place that you haven’t seen. The Off-Campus Living Service does not inspect or endorse any of the housing listings on our web site. When viewing a prospective rental unit, be sure to ask the landlord and the current tenants if there are plumbing, insect or any other problems with the unit. If the landlord is cleaning or repairing any part of the house, the cleaning or repairs should be completed before your lease begins. If problems with your rental unit occur, notify the landlord in writing, and keep a copy of all correspondence for your records.
Please see our user generated landlord review system.
What to Look for on the Outside
- Consider your proposed apartment in relation to Yale services that may be important to you (i.e. Does the Yale shuttle or minibus travel there?).
- Know which streets are well-lit on the route to the apartment.
- Notice adjacent properties and whether they are maintained.
- Does the outside door to the building close and lock behind you?
- Examine the perimeter lighting of the building at night.
- Is there an entrance in back (i.e. where you park your car) and is the way to the building door lit well?
- Is there an intercom entry system? If not, is there a viewer on the door?
What to Look for on the Inside
- Are there bug screens on the windows?
- Check the locking hardware on the main door, any hallway doors and the front door to the building. Are they all in working order and do they close behind you?
- Check lighting in alcoves, front door, and hallways at night to be certain it is sufficient.
- Look at the overall maintenance of the building. If upkeep is poor, this may be a clue that security is lax.
- Are the first floor hallway and apartment windows protected?
- Is there a gap in the door latch that could compromise its effectiveness?
- Is there a dead bolt for the door to your apartment and for any other perimeter doors?
- Is there a viewer on your front door to determine who is knocking?
- Is there a fire escape near your window, is the window protected?
The landlord will ask you to fill out a Rental Application, which allows a landlord to obtain information from a prospective tenant. You may be charged an application processing fee, which ranges from $30 to $50, usually, and which also covers the cost of the credit/background check the landlord will run on you. Basic information includes:
- Employment, income and credit history
- Social Security and driver’s license numbers
- Past evictions or bankruptcies
- References (not always)
Some of the grounds for not approving an application can be:
- Insufficient income - as a general guideline, rent should not be more than 33% of gross monthly income;
- Poor credit history - make sure you know what your credit report contains.
- In cases of insufficient income, the landlord can ask for a co-signer or a guarantor.
Please read the application carefully, including the small print. The application fee is non-refundable, but the deposit you put down with the application, which can be as much as one month of rent, may also be non-refundable if you change your mind. Some applications state that you have three business days to cancel and get your money back, some others do not. Always get a copy of the application you have submitted. Always get copies of all the documents you sign.
In order to afford living close to campus, many individuals share housing and related expenses with others. You can use our Roommate Search service to help look for a roommate.
When planning to share housing, try to get to know your future roommates, and ask how long they intend to stay in the unit. You will most likely sign a lease in which each tenant is individually responsible for the entire rent; if a roommate backs out, the remaining tenants are liable for the full rent.
- The roommates who sign a lease together are jointly and severally responsible, which means that one roommate is not only responsible for his/her your own share of the rent but for the total rent, in case another roommate cannot pay or moves out. It also means that you are held responsible for complying with all the terms of the lease individually and collectively.
- When large groups of students look for a house to rent, very often only one, two or three of them sign the lease. The rest make just verbal commitments. Remember that only the people who have signed the lease are responsible for it. The roommates who changed their minds may be morally responsible, but legally, they are not. Try to get everybody to sign the lease from the very beginning, so the responsibility will be shared.
- The landlord may accept rental payment with separate checks, but may also ask you to pay with one check. Although this is not a frequent occurrence, it may happen and it is not illegal. Make sure you know from the very beginning of your lease how the rent is to be paid.
- When trying to recover your security deposit after leaving the premises, you should know that your deposit can be used to cover damage done by another roommate. The landlord does not have to establish who is responsible for the damage and will expect you to settle the matter.
- When the security deposit is returned, the landlord may choose to return the money with a check written out to all the roommates. That can be quite a hassle for you as all the signatures may be needed for the check to be cashed. You may want to designate one person for the return of the deposit and let the landlord know in writing who that person is. That roommate will receive the returned security deposit, break down the amount and distribute it among the former roommates. The landlord does not have to write out a check for each of the roommates.
- Handling payment of bills. Rent . How will rent be paid - one check or separate? What if someone is late? Can the roommate afford the rent? If your roommate doesn’t pay the rent, you are legally responsible for their portion of the rent. Utilities and telephone bill. How are utility accounts set up? Who is responsible for the payment to the utility company? How do you divide expenses? Will you have separate telephone lines or one line to be used by all? If so, telephone companies can assign special codes to roommates to keep track of phone calls and bill separately.
- Privacy. What are your needs for privacy and what are the other roommates’ needs?
- Security. Locking doors, windows when you are at home and when you are away. Will you keep an extra key? Should anyone beside the roommates have a key? Your lease says “no”.
- Pets. Are pets allowed by your lease? Are you allergic to cats, for example? How many pets are you willing to have in the apartment?
- Moving Out. Who will clean the apartment at move out time? Will all roommates be there at the end of the lease? The responsibility for cleaning belongs to all roommates.
When you move in:
- Document the condition of the apartment at move-in time! Take detailed pictures of your apartment. It will help you request repairs and protect your security deposit. Digital cameras often have a date stamp option, but if you are using a non-digital camera, you may want to place the day’s newspaper in the picture, to be able to date it.
- Request repairs in writing, always giving a timeframe for response, so that you know when you can take the next step.
- Obtain renter’s insurance. In the case of fire, water damage, or theft, your belongings are NOT covered under your landlord’s insurance.
- As a general rule, take pictures, write letters and follow up with your landlord. Don’t let your landlord tell you that all you can expect in this area is a substandard place. A lease is a contract. You are paying good money and you need to get something decent in return. A safe and habitable place is the law.