Housing Search for Next Year

<p>I am interested in any suggested best practices for student housing searches for next year, for those students planning to rent houses or apartments. </p>

<p>My main questions are in two areas:</p>

<p>1) What is the suggested time-line to have this completed by to have a decent selection? Are most apartments/houses for next year rented during semester 1, or does most of this happen some time during semester 2? </p>

<p>2) Suggestions on neighborhoods/areas or specific apartment complexes that are safe, convenient, etc.? Best overall, best value, etc.</p>

<p>As usual, any feedback/ideas appreciated!</p>

<p>I would like to know this too. I was just telling my son he at least needed to be figuring out who he wanted to live with next year. My other son who goes to a different Big 10 school has already signed his lease for next year.</p>

<p>In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king! And that's what I am. I am in the same boat as you two and all I've come up with so far is this website:</p>

<p>University</a> of Iowa Off Campus Housing Service - Home</p>

<p>Hey, Beast -- thank much for posting that link. Any other tidbits of information or suggestions out there, please post as things unfold -- if we pool our single eyes, we may wind up with 5 or 6!</p>

<p>Anybody's kid get an apartment yet? My son is in a group that is trying get an apartment by paying the last month's rent of the group that is living there now so they will pass down the lease to them. I have never heard of such a thing.</p>

<p>Hey All:</p>

<p>Izzie - while I have heard of some students "extorting" rent from incoming student apt hunters, I have had no personal experience myself. It's sound like a bit of a scam to me but, to be sure, have your S check out a few other places. I would think that most kids would be ethical enough to not take advantage of that situation.</p>

<p>Our D and three of her Burge buddies are looking to move off-campus next fall and have already located a nice place near campus. They will probably sign the lease later this week. Per my experience, most of the apt hunting has begun in earnest and many kids will sign leases for the 2011/2012 school year before Christmas break.</p>

<p>One place to checkout possible apartment options is the website:</p>

<p>Iowa</a> City Downtown Apartments @ Apts Downtown Property Management - Premiere Apartments In Iowa City, IA! 319-354-8331 - Welcome!.</p>

<p>You can also google "Apartments Downtown Iowa City" and you should be able to find the link. The site has a number of listings and, as importantly, has copies of the lease and other forms accessible on the website.</p>

<p>I'm sure that most of you already know this but a couple of important points for "first-timers":</p>

<ol>
<li><p>PLEASE READ THE LEASE VERY CAREFULLY. Most lease forms and related lease guaranty forms are heavily one-sided favoring the landlord. It is amazing the amount of fines, repairs, penalties, etc. that can be charged for unauthorized parties, smokers, changing lightbulbs, pounding nails in the walls for pictures etc. Check out the "sample" lease on the above website. It's pretty interesting.</p></li>
<li><p>MOST LEASES AND RELATED PARENT LEASE GUARANTIES CONTAIN "JOINT AND SEVERAL" LIABILITY LANGUAGE. In short, "joint and several" means that one person assumes the liabilities and responsibilities of the entire group under a legal document. Example, if your student and his/her 3 best buddies sign a lease for an apt next year for $2000/month and - the unthinkable happens - all 3 of your student's roommates drop out of school on Day 1 next fall - the sole remaining occupant (your student) will be liable for the ENTIRE AMOUNT OF THE ENTIRE LEASE ($24K) FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR plus any related damages. While this event is highly, highly unlikely, it has happened. The "joint and several" issue also holds true of the parent lease guaranty forms. Both the lease and the parent lease guaranties are NOT pro-rated for just your student's obligations. With our S in Madison, I have yet to find a lease that is not joint and several and have never found a landlord that was willing to waive the parent lease guaranty. From what I understand in Iowa City, this is true there as well.</p></li>
<li><p>Bottom line, be sure that your student is very comfortable with BOTH: a) their roommates' academic standing and ability to remain in school for the entire academic year; and b) their roommates' ability to pay their share of the lease.</p></li>
</ol>

<p>DISCLAIMER - I am not an attorney. However, I do a good deal of contract/legal document negotiation as a part of my job. If you have any questions regarding the apt forms, a short visit with an attorney friend may help provide you answers. If there are any lawyers on this thread, please share your expertise with us.</p>

<p>I apologize for the length of this post but hopefully it will save some heart ache down the road.</p>

<p>Good luck to everyone. Hope all of your students are doing well heading into finals.</p>

<p>B10P</p>

<p>B10P, thanks for the helpful post!! It certainly highlights the fact that the off-campus rental requires care and diligence.</p>

<p>My son was initially hot for the off-campus move next year but that has since cooled and he and his friends want to stay in the dorms another year. Wife and I were surprised, but our guess is that when he and his buddies talk about moving it becomes complicated determining who's in and who's out. The whole gang of 6 or 8 kids can't rent together. I suspect that by April he'll regret this decision as by then the food and the close quarters will get to him, but wife and I are somewhat relieved in that the dorm is an easier option for us and quite honestly we're not sure he's mature enough to keep a house and handle his own groceries and cooking.</p>

<p>UPDATE: Our D and her roommates signed their lease today for Fall 2011 with the "Apartments Downtown" leasing / apt management company. One pleasant surprise was that the company did NOT require a parent lease guaranty for this apt unit. That was good news. However, the leasing company did require two checks upfront - one check for the entire security deposit (1 month's rent) which the company deposits and cashes immediately and one post-dated check dated 7/1/2011 for one entire month's rent which the company states that it will deposit / cash on or about 7/1/2011. FYI.</p>

<p>My daughter and her roomate signed their lease with Apartments Downtown yesterday as well. They will be living in a brand new building that is under construction. I called the Iowa City building inspector's office to make sure that the owners and builders of the property are trustworthy and to make sure that they think the building will be finished in time for the August move in date. They gave the thumbs up. </p>

<p>Now I have to start figuring out how they are going to furnish this nice new apartment. Yikes!</p>

<p>Here is another great link to help those who are looking for apartments.
Iowa</a> City, IA Apartments and Houses for Rent, Local Apartment and Home Rentals, House, Townhome, and Condo Rentals, Vacation Rentals, Roommate and Sublet Classifieds ::</p>

<p>My son has also signed his lease, written a check for the security deposit, written the check for the first month's rent to be cashed in June and paid his extortion fee to the current renters. Hopefully he will find somebody else to extort when he moves out -- apparently this has been going on for a while and hopefully it's not illegal :) I'm just glad it's taken care of!</p>

<p>Looks like most of the kids will be learning how to fend for themselves next year. I've read somewhere that the only two things more over-rated than living off campus is owning your own business and natural childbirth. Maybe we parents should pool our resources and buy our own apt building (lol).</p>

<p>^ :)</p>

<p>Well said, b10p.</p>

<p>My husband and I had a brief moment of insanity in October when we visited over Family Weekend. My daughter found an adorable, completely remodeled, three bedroom house within walking distance to campus in the $200K range. We actually thought about purchasing the house for her and two friends to live in (friends would pay rent of course), but then the reality of maintenance, being a landlord, etc, quickly changed our minds. Now we're trying to decide what to do during the ten or so weeks that she and her roommate won't live in the apartment over the summer of 2012. </p>

<p>They could sublet but that would mean risking damage to the apartment and their furnishings, which could end up costing more than the few months rent paid for an unoccupied apartment. I'm hoping that I convince hubby to just cough up the rent and pretend DD is living in the apartment. Or, I could stay in it and enjoy summer in IC!</p>

<p>lovemykids2, I can't say for certain about the summer rental situation in IC, but if my experience in Madison is any indication, the supply of summer sublets greatly outnumbers the demand and the going rate plummets to the point where leaving the place empty is probably preferable to subletting it. I think the reality is that your monthly rent is basically your 12 month outlay divided by 9.</p>

<p>I agree with beastman on the summer subletting, we have lots of townie kids in our college town who sublet apartments for the summer for minimal rent and those kids are there to party. I'd rather keep the place safe and clean or at least keep the damages to just the ones inflicted by my own kid and his roommates. beastman, my son is living with a kid from Madison next year -- I saw your son is staying on campus next year but for a minute, I thought wouldn't it be funny if our kids ended up living together. My son's apartment is also an Apartments Downtown building, sounds like they're a pretty big operation.</p>

<p>Beastman and Izzie, thanks for the advice. My husband and I talked about this after I posted and he agreed that we'll just keep the apartment empty for the short summer break. </p>

<p>So happy all of our kids have found housing for next year. Now they can concentrate on finals!</p>

<p>Question for those who've recently committed to renting next year. I think most of your kids are renting with 1 or two others rather than larger groups taking a house. I'm curious about your estimate of the entire year's cost vs. what you're now paying for residence hall + meal plan. Obviously, food will be hard to estimate but I'm sure most of you have done so anyway. Is renting more or less expensive than the dorms for you?</p>

<p>Daughter is splitting a two bedroom with one other girl. I think that renting will be slightly more expensive, but not by much. If I remember correctly the dorm was around $7000 for the year and then the meal plan added just over another $1000. Rent will be $650 a month, which includes cable and internet, we pay other utilities. Daughter rarely eats in the cafeteria because she said the food is too high calorie/high fat so she buys groceries and makes healthy sandwiches, pasta, and other things. Consequently, next years food bill will most likely be a lot less than this year. The only thing that will make the first year of renting more expensive will be outfitting the apartment with furniture. </p>

<p>When you consider that her rent is actually less per month than the dorms, she will have a LOT more square footage for the cost, she'll save money in food, and won't have to deal with the constant noise and such, renting is going to be a much better deal!</p>

<p>Beast - we figured approx. $8-9k/year for the "all-in" dorm cost for our D. In our experience with our older S, the actual/month living cost is a little bit higher for apts versus dorms but not much so. The big difference on an annual basis is the summer sublet. If you let the apt sit empty over the summer, you'll have $1,500 to $2,000 of "sunk" costs that you can't recover and which you don't have with the dorms. Off-campus costs are higher yet if your student has a car and has to pay $100-$150/month for on-site parking.</p>

<p>Like LMK2, we figure our D's rent/utils will be approx. $650/month. Based upon our older S's history, we are thinking another $200-$250/month for food. We assume that "social expenses" and other costs will stay about the same. All told, we're looking at approx. $900/month or so during the school year ($8k) plus the summer rent cost of $1.5k for a total annualized cost of around $10K. I may be a bit high but, for us, I think that were pretty close.</p>

<p>Agree with LMK2 that the kids do eat better at home but our experience is that they will also dine out a bit more when on campus (The Union, Subway, Noodles etc) if they're busy and don't want to tromp all the way back to the apt to eat. Depends on how far they live off campus. Another wild card depends on whether or not your student's roommates are "moochers". The kids will usually police that pretty quick.</p>

<p>Bottom line, for us, living off campus is a bit more expensive than the dorms but not materially so. Plus, as parents, we have the added benefit of knowing that our kids' are actually learning how to live on their own - paying rent, utils, bills, grocery shopping etc. - a valuable education unto itself.</p>

<p>B10P</p>

<p>Based on our experience with an older son, it is more expensive to live in an apartment. Last year, he lived with one other kid and the utilities always seemed really high plus they of course had to have DirectTV and internet so it seemed like it would really add up. This year he lives with 4 other guys and splitting the utilities has been much cheaper. The way to make the apartment really worthwhile though is if your child decides to go to summer school. It's almost like having free lodging because you are already paying for it anyway. My son stayed last summer and is probably going to stay this summer. </p>

<p>I agree with B10P about the eating out -- there's a lot more grabbing something for lunch so you don't have to go back to your apartment and dinner out somewhere when you're busy. My son at Iowa is much more frugal than the older one so we'll see. Unfortunately, my kids didn't have a very good role model growing up when it comes to eating in :)</p>

<p>Also parking is really expensive in Iowa City. My older one had free parking last year and this year with his rent. My younger one will be paying $1200 a year for parking unless he decides to keep his car in the Hawkeye Storage Lot again (which is a big pain), apparently no break on summer parking if you're not there.</p>