Thinking about living off campus?
For students considering living off campus, Hofstra's Office of Off-Campus Living and Commuting Student Services can assist you in weighing the options and determining if off-campus living is the best option for you. If you are thinking about living off campus, we suggest you answer the following questions.
Questions to ask yourself about living off campus:
- What is my budget? What can I afford? What about a deposit? Don't forget about utilities.
- Does my financial aid cover my rent?
- How do I know if an area is a safe place to live?
- Do I want to live alone or share space and expenses with a roommate?
- How close do I need to be to campus?
- What types of transportation will I rely on and what costs are associated?
- Do I have furniture or will I need a furnished apartment/house?
- What amenities are priorities for me: air conditioning, laundry facilities, extra storage?
Here are some helpful links:
- Step 1: Research and Find a Place
- When beginning your housing search, do your research. Research the location, transportation, and the reputation of the landlord. Check out the neighborhoods/areas that you are interested in living. If you do not have a car, is public transportation available?
Visit the house/apartment and meet the landlord. It’s important to visit the neighborhood more than once – go during the day, at night, and on the weekend. Contact the local police department for the area you are exploring and ask about the crime statistics. Talk to friends or classmates who have rented from this landlord. Does the landlord maintain a good relationship with their tenants? Are their properties in good condition? Are they responsive to repairs? Since you will need to deal with the landlord a lot, it is important to find out basic information about them. Find out if they're a private owner or if a private management company owns the house/apartment. This all takes time, but is well worth it.
Finding a house or an apartment can be a challenging process. Only you can decide what is the best option for you. The following websites listing of rental units assumes that rental landlords are responsible for reporting information fairly and accurately. Hofstra University cannot guarantee the completeness or accuracy of such information. Inclusion of any property or rental unit on this website does not constitute, and shall not be construed or reported as (1) an endorsement or approval by Hofstra University of the landlord, its properties, or its business practices, or (2) a warranty or representation by Hofstra University as to the equality, safety or other features of such property and/or its owners or management agent(s). Hofstra University expressly disclaims any and all responsibility for any problems that may arise with regard to such property or rental units or with regard to disputes between landlords and tenants concerning such property or rental units. All prospective tenants are encouraged to exercise their own good judgment when evaluating a prospective rental unit or landlord.
- Step 2: The Lease
- Many people find it difficult to understand the terms of a lease. All issues with the property should be addressed before the lease is signed. Tenants and landlords have rights and responsibilities, but it is important to define the terms of certain items such as when the landlord is permitted to enter the premises and for what reasons. To learn more about the common lease, please refer to the information below provided by community organizations and government agencies:
Nassau/Suffolk Law Services What Every Tenant Should Know
The New York State Attorney General’s Tenant Rights Guide
Metropolitan Council on Housing’s Statutory Rights of Residential Tenants in New York
Other important information can be found in the Property Maintenance Code of New York State
Building codes for the Town of Hempstead can be found here.
Building codes for the Village of Hempstead can be found here.
- Step 3: Document…document…document
- Before signing a lease, thoroughly inspect the condition of the house/apartment. It is important that it fulfills basic expectations. There should be no mold or water damage, all doors and windows should close and lock securely, and it should appear in good condition. Check to make sure that all the appliances work – turn them on and off! Check that all sinks, toilets, showers, etc., also work. Are there carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in every room?
Most importantly, document in writing and with photographs, if possible, the condition of the apartment/house before you move in and at all stages of your tenancy. Use a camera that date-stamps its photographs.
When making a verbal request for repairs with the landlord, follow it up in writing (via email or regular mail), so that when and what specifically you are requesting is documented.
Keep copies of all correspondence, letters, emails, photographs, and other documents. All notices of renewal or termination within the defined periods should be in writing and sent by certified mail with a receipt, indicating the letter was received.
Provide a forwarding address in writing at the end of your lease, using certified mail. When your security deposit is returned, keep the envelope (if sent by mail) and make a copy of the check before you deposit it. It is not recommended to conduct any business involving rental payments or security deposits in cash.
- Step 4: Be a Good Neighbor
- Living off campus requires students to display good citizenship. It is important to remember that although you may only be living in your new home for a short time, many of your neighbors are long-time residents of the community. In order to have the best relationship with your neighbors consider the following things:
- Introduce yourself to your new neighbors and let them know how they can reach you if they have any concerns.
- Keep your neighbors informed. Contact them when undertaking something that may affect them, such as building a fence or getting a dog.
- Be respectful in terms of the noise level that comes from your home, as well as outside of your home. For example, slamming car doors at night.
- Keep your outdoor area neat and orderly, including things like remembering to return your trash cans from the curb after sanitation pick-up.
- Be sure that you and your housemates respect the parking signs on the street and do not park your cars on the grass at your homes.
- During inclement weather, like snowstorms, be sure your walkway has been cleared for both neighbors and for U.S. postal carriers.
- Step 5: Working with a Landlord
- To make the most of your off-campus living experience, you may wish to consider asking your potential landlord a few questions, such as:
- What is the start date and end date of the lease?
- When can I move in?
- What is the process of terminating a lease?
- How much is the security deposit?
- If the last month of the lease is not a complete month, will the rent be prorated?
- Are there any late payment penalties?
- Are sublets permitted? How much is the sublet fee? What is the sublet process?
- Can I hang up pictures/paintings without a fee?
- Can I paint and decorate my living space?
- What utilities are included in rent? If none, what is an estimate of monthly cost?
- If no one resides in the apartment/house during the summer, can the utilities be turned off?
- Is Wi-Fi included in the rent?
- How many parking spaces are available to the apartment/house and is there a monthly charge? Is there a separate contract for parking?
- If there is not a washer/dryer in the unit, where is the laundry facility? If there is a laundry room, is it coin-operated or is there an electronic payment system? How many washers/dryers are in the laundry room?
- Is there a maintenance person on call 24/7? What is the emergency phone number?
- Who is responsible for grass cutting and snow removal?
- Do all bedrooms have smoke detectors? Are they hardwired or battery operated?
- Do all bedrooms have carbon monoxide detectors?
- Does the house/complex have a sprinkler system? Who pays for it?
- Where is the nearest bus stop?
- What type of heat (gas or electric) does the house/apartment have?
- Are there exterior lights and are they working?
Off-Campus Living Recess Tips
As always, we want to help ensure that your home and your belongings will be safe in your absence. Below is a list of safety tips to ensure your house will remain safe within the community while no one will be living there for an extended period of time.
When you leave be sure to:
- Lock all the windows and doors.
- Remove all extra hidden keys you may have outside.
- Place a wood or metal rod in the track of sliding doors to avoid it from being forced open.
- Remove any valuable items that may be visible from the outside.
- Use deadbolt locks to avoid doors from being forced open.
- Activate your home alarm system, if you have one.
- DO NOT announce your travel plans in public or to anyone you cannot trust (including on Facebook or other social networks).
- Avoid packing your car the night before you leave; you don’t want any of your belongings to be stolen or to tip people off that you will be gone.
- Remove all valuables (including GPS and E-ZPass) and set your car alarm, if you will be leaving your car behind.
Make your house appear as though someone is living there:
- Have a neighbor take your mail and newspapers.
- Ask a neighbor to park their car in your driveway.
- Use a timed light switch so lights will come on in the later part of the afternoon.
- Have motion detector lights on the outside of the house.
- Ask a neighbor to put out the trash from your house.
To avoid fires and floods be sure to:
- Turn off and unplug any electronic appliances: toasters, hair dryers, curling irons, portable heaters, etc.
- Lower heat to 60 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure that the pipes won’t freeze, but that the boiler won’t be working in excess to provide heat.
- Turn off all the faucets and fix any leaking ones.
- Dispose of any oily rags or other flammable items in a proper container.
Tips for Commuters by Commuters
- Park on the North Campus—parking is a lot easier, and not much farther.
- Make a point to walk through the Student Center at least once a week, so you know what's going on at Hofstra.
- Join clubs, like the Organization of Commuter Students (OCS), to stay involved in campus life.
- Don't write off resident students! Even if you live close by, they can be your best friends in a bad weather situation.
- Don't be afraid to stay on campus and get work done, or come back for weekend parties. People who live on campus have just as much to share about Long Island as you do.
- Don't wear uncomfortable shoes.
- Become involved—don't just go to classes and go home— schedule breaks in between classes to force yourself to be active members at Hofstra's events.
- Give yourself enough time to get to campus; you never know what will happen on the roads.
- I like to keep a sleeping bag and pillow in my car…you never know when you’ll need it…
- The first day of class, ask your professors how they plan to contact you if they decide to cancel class—a commuter should never have to commute, if they really don’t have a reason to.
Do you have a tip you would like to share? Email us and tell us!