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Off-Campus Housing Cheat Sheet

Off-campus Housing

Cheat Sheet

Ready to move off-campus?

Knoxville is full of amazing places to live and explore. Kick off your search by checking out our off-campus housing resources!

Use the drop down menus below to learn more about what to look for when you’re searching for an apartment, questions to ask prior to signing a lease, and some red flags to keep in mind during your search.

Create a Budget

Before you start looking at properties, it is crucial for you to know your budget.

First time making a budget? Use our Off-Campus Housing Budget to get started.

Set your Priorities

Write down a list of “Needs” and “Wants” before you start your search.

Organize your thoughts by using our template.

Use Online Apartment Searches

UT’s off-campus housing search

Talk to Your Peers

Talk to your classmates and get their advice for places to live around campus. There are also a lot of student housing groups on Facebook that list available rooms everyday.

Read Reviews

Be sure that you Google the company and read reviews to gather background information before your tour.

Perform Self-Inspections

Check all appliances, doors, windows, and any other provided property to ensure everything works properly and is not damaged.

Pro Tip: Bring a tape measure!

When viewing a perspective rental property. think of it like a job interview. You are essentially interviewing the property managers about the property’s ability to meet your needs. So come ready with lots of questions! Here are a list of some important questions to ask.

  • Are there any Move-In Specials?
  • How much is the rent? When is rent due?
  • What costs are required to move in?
  • What are the average monthly utility costs for the unit type?
  • What are the options for paying rent?
  • What is the pet policy?
  • What is the guest policy?
  • How do you handle subletting/are you allowed to add roommates?
  • Penalties for breaking lease?
  • How do maintenance requests or emergency repairs work for the property?
  • What are the rules around painting and decorating?
  • How secure is the property?
  • What is the parking situation?

You’re probably excited to find the perfect roomies and make fun memories together. One of the best ways to create those memories is to avoid the not-so-great roommates. Here are four red flags to look out for:

They are not financially stable

Don’t be afraid to talk money with someone you will be living with. You are intertwining financial responsibilities so make sure you are comfortable with their employment history and their beliefs towards money.

Their home or car is a mess

A lot of people will advertise they like a clean apartment, but theirs is actually a disaster. Ask them their cleaning routines and be honest about your cleaning expectations.

They don’t share

People have different expectations when it comes to sharing space and items within a household so be sure to ask potential roommates about sharing. If you cannot find common ground about sharing, that could lead to issues later on.

They have a rocky history with past roommates

Talk about their past experiences to get a sense of why they are looking for new roommates. If there were any issues or hard feelings, or they don’t have good references, take that as a warning.

Some apartments and landlords are better than others. Sometimes what is being advertised is not exactly what you’ll see in real life. Here are five things to look out for when you go apartment hunting:

Poor communication with property management

When you reach out to a property, take note on how long it takes for you to receive answers. You may not want to work with a landlord that is not timely in their responses.

You cannot view the actual apartment unit

Some landlords only show a staged unit “similar” to the available unit. Make arrangements to see the actual unit you plan on renting to check for damages and make sure it is currently available or will be available in time for your lease to begin.

Complex is not well maintained

Pay attention to how the entire property or complex looks. If spaces are dirty and not maintained when you visit, this may foreshadow how the apartment unit is maintained.

There is no formal lease

Look out for landlords or complexes with no formal lease agreement and request payments via Venmo/CashApp/PayPal or cash. This is suspicious behavior for any “professional” rental property.

Fees, fees, and more fees

It’s common for a landlord to have some fees if rent is turned in late or safety security deposits for pets. However, be cautious of unreasonable or large fees and ask how you will get your deposit back.