Off Campus Housing Guide

Increase your odds by...

Make an appointment & arrive on time: You wouldn't want people showing up at your house unannounced and neither do landlords, so make an appointment and keep it. No one wants to wait around for prospective tenants.

Be presentable: Proper attire may improve your chances when there are several interested parties.

Follow up: Checking back reminds landlords that you are still interested, even when they've already taken your contact information.

 

Money talks: Be prepared to put money down to hold a place you like the day you find it. Make sure you get a deposit receipt, and note whether it is refundable if you do not end up renting the place, or if it can be applied toward future rent.

Start early: Give yourself several weeks to find housing. If you are looking for a place to rent in the fall, start your search toward the end of the spring semester or in early summer, as many landlords have vacancies during the summer.

Landlords will want...

Your potential landlord may be an individual or a private company. Either way, here are some things they may request from you:

  • An application (usually available at the property or the manager's office).
  • Credit check.
  • Co-signer (if you don't have an established credit score and are less than 25 years old).
  • Rental history/references (current HSU residents who want to use HSU as a housing reference must fill out a Release of Information form (PDF)
  • Lease or rental agreement (varies from month-to-month, 6 month and 1 year agreements).
  • Application or broker fee.

About credit checks...

Here are some links to help you better understand your credit score:

annualcreditreport.com | Equifax | Experian | Transunion | California Office of Privacy Protection

When renting a house or apartment the landlord may perform a credit check before renting to you. Landlords are looking to see whether you have a history of on-time payment, and that you don't have excessive debt that may limit your ability to pay rent.

You can keep track of your credit score by checking with the three main credit companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You are entitled to a free credit report every 12 months. It is your responsibility to maintain your credit and know where you stand.

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Moving-in checklist

In addition to finding a U-Haul van or convincing your friends with pick-up trucks to help you move, there are plenty of details you'll need to attend to when moving in to a new place. Here's a quick guide to help you with that process:

Inspect the premises:
Before you move in, arrange a time during the day to inspect your new rental. Conduct an inventory check during the walk through, marking the conditions of all the rooms, including the floors, walls, windows, light fixtures, etc.
Making note of problem areas now will save you the headache of arguing over who will pay for these damages when you move out. Also, it's a good idea to conduct a second walk through a week or two after you've moved in -- there are some things that can only be discovered after living in the rental.

Document all defects:
Beyond completing your own inventory, you should also document any damages you do find. We recommend you take photos of damages, and use a camera that automatically imprints the date on each photo.

Get all agreements in writing:
When repairs are needed have your landlord sign a work order, or some other document, that clearly outlines the work to be done and the time by which it should be completed. Keep all correspondence with your landlord, whether it is written or emailed.

Set up your utilities:
Once you have signed the rental agreement you'll need to know which utilities you, the tenant, are responsible for. Different landlords include different utilities in the rent, so be sure to ask. Here is a list of common service providers. For more specific information, contact the company directly.

  • Water & Sewer:
    City of Arcata, 736 F St., Arcata, CA 95521
    (707) 822-5951
  • Garbage:
    Arcata Garbage Company, 30 South G St., Arcata, CA 95521
    (707) 822-0304
  • Phone/Internet:
    AT&T phone, dial up & DSL (800) 288-2020 or att.com
  • Cable/Internet:
    Suddenlink cable & internet (877) 443-3127 or suddenlink.com
  • Gas & Electricity:
    PG&E (800) 743-5000 or pge.com
  • Newspapers:
    The Times-Standard: (707) 441-0500 or times-standard.com
    Mad River Union : (707) 826-7000 or arcataeye.com
  • Mail delivery:
    Be sure to fill out change-of-address and mail forwarding forms at your local post office branch. There is a $1 charge for mail forwarding, and it is valid for 6 months from the time you move. Usps.com.
  • Other bills & subscriptions:
  • Contact any other bills you may have (credit cards, car loans, etc.) and notify them of your change of address. Also contact any magazines or other subscriptions you may have -- again, mail forwarding is only valid for 6 months.

Being a good neighbor

Letting the lawn grow knee high, double and triple-parking cars, never hauling away the trash, even after six months -- you wouldn't want your neighbors turning your block into a nightmare, would you? That's why it's so important to be a good neighbor. Beyond getting to know your neighbors respecting that relationship is critical to being a member of society. And if that's not incentive enough, just remember that you'll need a glowing housing reference the next time you move to a new rental...

Get to know your neighbors:
Say hello! Getting to know the people you live near is a great way to get yourself oriented to your new neighborhood. With open communication between you and your neighbors, both sides will feel more comfortable approaching one another for help or when issues arise.

Parties & Noise:
As with many college towns, Arcata and Eureka are filled with mixed neighborhoods with different ideas of what "bedtime" is. If you are throwing a party, try to keep noise levels to a minimum; have smokers congregate in the back yard, not on the street; and, if possible, let your neighbors know about parties a few days in advance. You can let them know the approximate hours of the party, how much noise to expect and to call you, instead of the police, if there is a problem.
Also, if you live in an incorporated part of the city, you will be subject to ordinances concerning noise maximums and time limits.

Maintaining the property:
Odds are, your landlord will let you know what chores you are responsible for. Some landlords provide lawn service, while others require that you get out the lawn mower before the front yard becomes a jungle. For your own (and your neighbors) peace of mind, keeping a tidy house is just a good idea.

Trash & recycling removal
Your house is not a dump -- so don't treat it like one. Many landlords provide trash service to avoid just this sort of thing. If you aren't able to make regular trips to the dump or local recycling centers, we suggest paying for garbage service. The convenience of weekly pick-ups will greatly outweigh the cost.

In Eureka, contact:
City Garbage Co. of Eureka
949 W Hawthorne St.
Eureka, CA 95501
(707) 442-5711

In Arcata:
Arcata Garbage Co.
30 South G St.
Arcata, CA 95521
(707) 822-0304

Recycling pick-up is also available through these companies. Ask for more information.

Parking:

If you are sharing a home with two or more roommates, parking issues may arise. Following city ordinances for parking is the first step to being a courteous neighbor, but communication with your fellow residents is the best idea. Avoid things like double parking, blocking sidewalks or (the ultimate kiss of death) abandoning broken vehicles on public streets.

Certain districts of Arcata require parking permits. Inquire with the City Hall for more information.

Arcata City Hall
736 F St.
Arcata, CA 95521
(707) 822-5951

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Save on energy bills

Everybody from the State of California to PG&E and Grandma's Energy Blog has a list of energy saving tips. We've gone an compiled some of the best ideas, like these from the Department of Energy:

    • Set your thermostat comfortably low in the winter and comfortably high in the summer.
    • Use compact fluorescent light bulbs.
    • Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher's drying cycle.
    • Turn off your computer and monitor when not in use.
    • Plug home electronics into power strips; turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use.
    • Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120°F.
    • Take short showers instead of baths.
    • Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.
    • Wash your clothes using cold water whenever possible.
    • Drive sensibly. Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gasoline.
    • Look for the ENERGY STAR® label on home appliances and products. ENERGY STAR products meet strict efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.
    • Use fans, instead of air conditioners, to cool your house in the summer. Leave your window shades drawn to reduce heat coming in from outside. Likewise, in the winter, leave your window shades open during the day and close them at night.

For more tips:
U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Savers page
Flex your Power

Moving-out check list

Just as with moving in to a new place, the process of moving out is a detailed one. Use this checklist to guide you through the steps.

Check your rental agreement:
Look for any information regarding moving out, whether it's the date your agreement expires or the specific procedures for doing so.

Notify landlord in writing:
You should let your landlord know of your intent to vacate, in writing, at least 30 days in advance of the termination date. Even if your lease is set to expire, you are still required to submit notice 30 days in advance.

Arrange to have landlord inspect apartment:
Arrange for your landlord's inspection to be completed in your presence, using the same checklist you completed when you moved in. Be sure to have all rooms thoroughly cleaned; it is also common to have your carpets professionally cleaned prior to the move out date.

Notify utilities:
Let your utility providers know of your pending move at least one week in advance. Be sure to give them a forwarding address where final bills can be sent.

Remove all trash & personal possessions:
You should be completely moved out by the time the landlord is ready for an inspection, including removing all items you plan on getting rid of. Clean the floors, closets, fixtures and appliances. Many landlords provide guides for their cleaning specifications.

Return all keys to landlord:
Usually, landlords will ask for keys to be surrendered during their inspection.

Leave a forwarding address:
Contact your local post office branch and fill out change-of-address and mail-forwarding forms so your landlord can send you the remaining deposit.

Getting your security deposit back

Moving in and out costs a lot of money, that's why it's so nice to get the full amount of your security deposit back. Being aware of all the stipulations in your rental agreement is the first step to getting your money back.

Other tips include:

 

  • Repair damages -- if it gets fixed quickly, it probably won't be a problem when you're moving out. If you leave repairs for your landlord, he or she will use your deposit to pay for it.
  • Properly store any fixtures or furnishings you remove -- if you swap out the blinds for curtains, you'll need to put the blinds back up in the same condition they were in when you took them down.
  • Ask for it! -- Many landlords won't make the effort to return the money until you say something. Be sure to leave a forwarding address where your check can be sent. And if all of the above fails...
  • Take Action -- If you don't receive your deposit, or an itemized list of damages, it's time to take action. Write a certified letter asking for your deposit. If that doesn't work, look into small claims court. These inexpensive trials do not require a lawyer and are completed relatively quickly. Most of the time, the landlord won't want the hassle of a court appearance and will give you back the deposit to avoid any further legal action.

    Humboldt State University does not inspect or endorse the listed properties or make any warranties regarding their condition, nor does HSU secure off-campus housing for students. Off Campus Housing accepts listings with the expectation and understanding that the landlord or agent is in compliance with the Fair Housing Act.

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