Exploring Housing Options and Knowing Your Rights
Last updated August 17, 2023
As you move from high school into college and gain independence, housing will likely be a key concern for you. While many colleges offer student housing it may not last beyond your freshman year, so it’s always good to plan for your future. This may mean finding a place to rent in college or beyond and maybe even buying a home someday! Regardless of where you are in your housing journey, it's essential to understand your housing rights and options.
If you are going to attend college, finding affordable student housing may be a top priority. There are several options available, including on-campus housing, off-campus apartments, and roommate shares. On-campus housing is often the most affordable option, and many colleges and universities offer programs that provide financial assistance to students in need. If you're interested in living off-campus, consider sharing an apartment with roommates to save on expenses. Be sure to look into your financial aid package and determine what kind of money you might get for housing!
Making renting decisions
Renting is the most common option for young adults. Before signing a lease, it's essential to understand your budget and what you can afford in terms of rent and utilities. Be sure to factor in any additional expenses, such as transportation costs and groceries, when making your budget. This may also mean that you want to consider living with roommates to split the cost. Whether you are attending school or working full-time, housing location is also a key consideration. Be sure to map out how you will get from your house or apartment to work and school. Are there public transportation options nearby? Is there easy access to parking if you have a car? These are all important factors when choosing a place to rent.
When renting a property, you will typically be required to sign a lease. A lease is a legal agreement between you and your landlord that outlines the terms of your tenancy, including the rent amount, lease term, and any rules or restrictions. Before signing a lease, be sure to read it carefully and understand all of the terms. If you have any questions or concerns about the lease, don't hesitate to ask your landlord or property manager. It's also essential to keep a copy of your lease and any other important documents related to your tenancy in a safe place.
What are my rights as a renter?
As a renter (commonly known as a “tenant”), you have certain rights and protections that you should be aware of. For example, landlords are required to provide safe and habitable living conditions for their tenants. Find your tenant rights by state here. If you notice any safety hazards or maintenance issues in your rental unit, be sure to report them to your landlord or property manager as soon as possible. Additionally, landlords are not allowed to discriminate against tenants based on their race, gender, religion, or other protected categories. If you feel that you have been discriminated against, you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and often your local city or state government. Your city may also have more renter protections such as setting a limit to rent increases and fees and creating an order of tenants accepted to fight against discrimination. So it is also important to look up your particular area to see what tenant rights you have!
What is rental insurance?
If you are renting an apartment or house, rental insurance can provide protection for your personal belongings in case of theft, fire, or other disasters. Rental insurance can also provide liability coverage in case someone is injured on your property.
When selecting rental insurance, consider the cost of the premiums and the coverage limits. Make sure to read the policy carefully and understand what is covered and what is not. Some policies may have exclusions for certain types of losses, such as floods or earthquakes, so it's important to assess the risks in your area and consider additional coverage if needed.
While it may seem very far off, if owning your own home is one of your goals you can start planning for your future right now. By building your credit, understanding debt, and making smart money moves, you can set yourself up for success. If you start saving now and take advantage of long-term savings accounts and investments, you can build up money for a down payment. It is also never too early to look into programs that can help first-time homebuyers, including the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan, which requires a lower down payment than traditional mortgages.
Understanding your housing rights and options is essential to your peace of mind and ability to be independent in the world! Be sure to talk to trusted adults in your life about your options and choices. Get Schooled is also always here to help you find great resources To keep learning about your financial future, click here to text us, and be sure to check out all of Get Schooled’s free Money Management resources so you’re set up for success!