It’s gotten to the point of the year where if you are thinking of living off-campus next year, you need to start looking for houses. Depending on how many people you are looking to get an apartment (or a house) with, the time you have left to find a place could be short.
If you’re looking to get a house with a large amount of people (I had eight), your choices will be very limited by now (from the already limited selection). In Troy, many of the apartments consist of a house with two floors where each floor is an apartment which have locking doors to separate the two floors. With many people, you will want to rent both floors of the house. This is where the problem starts—most houses will already have one of the floors rented or have tenants already who don’t plan on leaving next year. If you have four people or less, you will not run into this problem—lucky you!
A good place to start looking for apartment listings is http://housing.union.rpi.edu/. The off-campus housing website allows landlords in Troy to post their apartments on a unified page that only RPI students can see. The site allows you to sort and filter listings by their maximum occupancy, distance from campus, number of bedrooms, included furnishings, and other features. The best part about the site is that the apartments listed are almost all extremely close to campus, as the houses listed are marketed towards RPI students.
After scouting out a few places online, I suggest contacting the landlord of each apartment via e-mail in order to set up a date an which you can tour each apartment. After touring each one, you should be able to eliminate the apartments you didn’t like, or chose the apartment which you liked the best. When you view the apartments, you should see if you can talk to the current tenants and find out how much utilities generally cost both on average and during the worst months of winter. Additionally, you can ask them what they think of their landlord and how they like the apartment.
Once you choose the apartment you want to rent, you should let the landlord know that you want it as soon as possible. It is common for landlords to take their apartment off the market while you look at the lease and are negotiating it with them. Once you receive your lease, you should contact the lawyers at the Rensselaer Union and send them a copy. They will review it with you, write any necessary addendums, and explain any parts of the lease that you do not understand. You can contact them at (518) 272-6565 to set up an appointment with them in the Union. The service is free for any current RPI student.
After you are happy with your lease agreement, you will be ready to sign the lease with the landlord. When you sign the lease, a security deposit is generally required. A typical value is one month’s rent per person. Once each person and the landlord has signed the lease, it is a done deal! You are the new, proud renter of an apartment for next year!