As third-year Ryan Basayne puts it, finding housing in Isla Vista is “definitely a unique process.”
Though conveniently located, the square-mile beachside town poses its share of legal and financial challenges for prospective tenants. House hunting can be a daunting task for those unfamiliar with the experience, and, despite two quarters remaining in the school year, the rush to secure housing for next fall is already in full swing. A rental fair will be held on campus Thursday, Jan. 14 at the Arbor, and a variety of other local resources are available for students on a regular basis to help them through the process.
Basayne said he encountered difficulties with roommates his first year in Isla Vista.
“Living with five strangers was difficult, especially rooming with one,” Basayne said. “It was very daunting and stressful.”
Basayne said his lack of experience handicapped his search for great housing and he advised other students to be proactive in their search.
“Get on it quickly,” Basayne said. “Make sure the people you’re rooming with aren’t just your good friends, but are good roommates.”
According to Maya Salmon, Program Coordinator of the Community Housing Office, many students encounter similar problems when applying for housing.
“The two biggest problems are roommate and security deposit disputes,” Salmon said.
Attorney Robin Unander of the Legal Resource Center — which sees approximately 2.5 percent of all UCSB students regarding housing problems — also warned against potential legal issues with roommates.
“Regardless of where [one lives], pick your roommates carefully because everybody is equally responsible,” she said.
Due to the economic crisis, many students are also concerned about the high cost of rent. According to the CHO, prices within I.V. vary depending on proximity to campus and the ocean. Wolfe & Associates’ properties on Del Playa Drive are listed at approximately $120 more per month than a property the same size and location on Sabado Tarde Road.
Paul Warkentin — owner of Kamap Property Management — said that there are many other facets of leasing housing and signing leases that students are often unaware of. Warkentin said it is important for students to ask about utility pricings, internet connection and what current residents think of their landlords.
“They need to ask if the rent is really the bottom line or if there are any hidden charges,” Warkentin said. “We try to encourage people to go around and talk to people about how their landlords are.”
Students should also be aware of the legal bindings of lease agreements and potential problems that can arise during the leasing process. Unander advises that tenants have all agreements with their landlords on written record.
“The lease they sign is like shackles, it legally binds them,” Unander said.