The Community Housing Office (CHO) is hosting their annual Rental Faire House Party today from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Corwin Pavilion in the UCen. This is an event that allows students to meet and greet local property providers, ask questions and see what rental properties are available. There will be a chance to win raffle prizes for all attendees. Additionally, groups from across campus (such as financial aid, career services) with resources that help off-campus students will be available to answer questions and pass out goodies. See you there!

[media-credit id=20109 align=”alignleft” width=”245″][/media-credit]It is said “the early bird catches the worm,” but not when it comes to finding housing in Isla Vista! Instead, “slow and steady wins the race.” Rushing into signing a lease before you’ve done your “housing homework” can lead to problems later on. Here are some dos and don’ts about choosing roommates, finding a place to rent and signing a lease:

DON’T let peer pressure determine your housing decisions. If you want to live in the university-owned residence halls, do it (they are currently accepting contracts for Manzanita and San Rafael for all continuing students). If you cannot afford a particular place, but your group is pushing you to sign the lease, find the strength to tell them the truth. Either assist them in finding a more affordable alternative or find another group. If you have reservations about living with someone because you don’t know them well or you know that you won’t be compatible as roommates, say, “No thanks,” before you get stuck in a contract with them. It may be awkward to say this now, but trust me; it will be much more awkward and painful later.

DO determine your budget ahead of time so that you don’t sign a lease for a rental that you later realize you can’t afford. Talk to financial aid and your family (if they help support you) to see what you can afford monthly. Having a part-time job in college is great, but not if you have to work so hard to pay for rent that you have no time to study, socialize, etc. Remember that living off-campus is more than just paying for rent — it also includes the cost of the security deposit, utilities, groceries, transportation, entertainment, furniture, etc.

DON’T think that Isla Vista is the only place for students to live. University-owned residence halls and apartments are great options. Goleta and Santa Barbara are also places to keep in mind. Although there might be a slightly longer commute to campus from Goleta or Santa Barbara (but hey, the bus is free and there are great bike paths), rental prices tend to be much more reasonable than Isla Vista (Think: your own bedroom!) and rentals tend to be in better shape (less turnover). If you are interested in a rental outside of Isla Vista, keep in mind that you only need to look about 30-45 days before you want to move.

DO make sure that you will be compatible with your potential roommates by asking each other questions about preferences and expectations regarding cleanliness, guests, parties, studying, sleeping and anything else that you know is important to you. We have more questions available in our office. Keep in mind that a best friend does not always make the best roommate!

DON’T sign a contract you don’t understand. Leases contain a lot of difficult language and by signing on the dotted line, you are agreeing to everything included in the lease. Bring your lease into CHO for one of our staff to read over with you and answer any questions you might have.

Do recognize that there is not a housing shortage in Isla Vista — not even close! You can even wait until summer to find a great place in Isla Vista. This November/December/January lease-signing craziness is completely unnecessary! Take your time to find a place you love with people you can live with peacefully at a price your bank account can handle.

DO educate yourself about the new local Social Host Liability Ordinance, laws and typical scenarios to avoid when becoming a lessee. All this and more will be covered at our programs this month.