Most people assume that dorm life in college is a given. They assume that the university they choose to attend will have a room available when they get there. More and more, students are finding that not to be the case. Students who were not quick enough to reserve one may find themselves in a bad situation where they have to scramble to find off campus student housing because the on campus student hosing is full. Given that nearly 14.5 million student enroll in four year college programs in America, having a few fill up makes more sense.

So if you find yourself looking to rent apt, there are some precautions you should take and tips you should follow to make the experience the best and safest it can be.

Part of the college experience is living with other people. If you know other people at your school, whom you really like, ask them if they are in your situation. Do not assume they will tell you on their own. This changes what you will be looking for. It’s great to find a friend to rent apt with you.

Now you have to find an apartment. Most schools have either their own off campus student housing an listings for off campus apartments. The housing department of your school should be your first step. Many college towns have student apartments and apartments that are meant to be a lot like the dorm. They help many students when they need to rent apt.

When looking at areas, make sure you do your due diligence and research the different neighborhoods. You may find what looks on paper like a dream apartment is not so dreamy in the sketchiest part of town. Student housing is often found near campus but ask about the area anyway. You also don’t want to find you need to take a sketchy bus late at night or something else. Learn the campus and surrounding areas. Check out the area in the day and the night if you can.

Once you have found a place, have someone look over any lease thoroughly before you sign it. The landlord may seem great but many have been known to take advantage of young people who may not be from the area. They can add clauses and stipulations that are illegal and end up costing the student either during their time in the apartment or after.

Do a very extensive check of the apartment before you sign anything. Take pictures of any problem areas. Take as many as you can. You may need these when you move out. You should always look for signs of water damage and mold because they can be health concerns and you do not want to live in a place that would allow new tenants in a home with mold.

Make sure you are clear on what your responsibilities will be as a tenant. Also find out what their policy is on repairs. It would not hurt to get information from other tenants if you can. Finding the landlord refuses to fix anything or that the heat is not included when you thought it was, will not make a great living arrangement.

College is a great time and many people do enjoy the privacy off campus housing provides so make sure you spend enough time to get the place you will enjoy living in.