Figuring out housing as a UCSB student can be an overwhelming and confusing time for everyone, whether you’re a freshman currently living in the dorms or a junior searching for the perfect oceanside home for senior year.

Alyssa Long / Daily Nexus

This quarter, the Daily Nexus is launching another Ask Me Anything (AMA). We have partnered with the Isla Vista Tenants Union and UCSB’s Community Housing Office to answer any questions you may have about UCSB housing, I.V. housing and more. 

The AMA Google form can be found below:

Updated [Jan. 14, 2020]

When should I start looking for housing? 

UCSB Housing Office: The best time for continuing students to look for housing for the next academic year is during winter quarter. As early as winter break, students are advised to start thinking about housing and discussing budget with their parents/guardians as appropriate, to determine what would be the best fit for them. Students looking for housing should plan to attend one of the “Housing 101” programs that are offered by University & Community Housing Services (UCHS) in various residence halls during winter quarter. These programs thoroughly cover university-owned and privately-owned community housing options, including deadlines, processes, types of leases, choosing a space and choosing roommates. 

Isla Vista Tenants Union: Begin figuring out who you would like to live with in October. The earlier you start looking the better. Most people find what they are looking for during December, but options remain later on. Smaller places such as one-bedroom apartments get taken up first while larger houses are on the market longer. 


What are my housing options (university vs. I.V.)? 

UCSB Housing Office: For university-owned housing, current first-year students are guaranteed a space in the residence halls; current third-year and fourth-year students also have the option of university-owned apartments, which are guaranteed if they lived in the residence halls for their first two years and they meet the deadlines. For privately-owned options in the community, including Isla Vista, students can access the UCHS Rental Listing Service for available housing and should plan to attend one of the UCHS Rental Fairs on campus that bring property management companies together with prospective residents.

Isla Vista Tenants Union: The university offers living arrangements both on and off campus. There are university apartments specifically for upperclassmen and graduate students. Isla Vista also offers many housing options. Both houses and apartments are up for rent. Several co-op houses exist in I.V. as well. 

How late is too late to look for housing? 

Isla Vista Tenants Union: It’s never too late! However, the longer you put it off, the fewer options you will have. There are always options, but you may not find exactly what you are looking for. Looking by December/January just gives the widest range of options.


Is there a best area in I.V. to rent (a.k.a., where to get most of your money)? 

Isla Vista Tenants Union: It depends on what you are looking for. Typically, the closer a house is to the ocean (Del Playa, Sabado Tarde) the more expensive it will be. Houses closest to campus may also be a bit pricier. However, pricing varies from house to house and depending on the management company. More expensive houses may also offer more amenities and features.


When do leases in I.V. typically start and end?

Isla Vista Tenants Union: Most leases are from June to June with leases starting at the end of the month and ending shortly after spring finals. Other leases may start in July or even in September before the start of the regular school year. Most leases take place over a 12-month period. 


What if I don’t have anyone in mind to live with? 

UCSB Housing Office: In university-owned housing, students self-assign themselves into an available vacant space; the other spaces in the room/apartment are filled in by other continuing students through the same self-assignment process or by new incoming students during the summer. For privately-owned community options, students can utilize the UCHS Rental Listing Service to list themselves as a ‘Roommate Available’ and can also browse through listings of other students who are looking to fill a space in their unit.

 Isla Vista Tenants Union: University housing and many property management companies offer individual contracts for units, meaning you can find housing on your own and you won’t be responsible if one of your roommates leaves the unit. But if you still want to find friends to live with, be sure that you work as roommates. The people you party with may not be ideal to live with. 

Editor’s Note: Additionally, if you’re interested in living in Isla Vista but don’t have people in mind to live with, or are going abroad and will only be in I.V. for one or two quarters, many students post in the UCSB Housing Facebook group to look for additional people to add onto their lease or for subleasers during the summer or the school year. 


What if I don’t want to live in I.V.? 

UCSB Housing Office: There are also options in Goleta and Santa Barbara on the UCHS Rental Listing Service.

Isla Vista Tenants Union: University housing is the most common alternative though some students choose to live in Goleta. Keep in mind the longer commute and greater distance from the student community.


What are the university-owned apartments like? 

UCSB Housing Office: Pictures, maps, floorspace plans and virtual tours of the university-owned apartments are available online here


When can I apply for UCSB housing as a second, third or fourth year? 

UCSB Housing Office: Continuing students can find application deadlines for university-owned housing here.


What should I do before I sign my lease? 

UCSB Housing Office: Students should visit the UCHS office upstairs in the University Center if they would like to have their privately-owned apartment lease reviewed. It is recommended that roommate groups go over the lease together to come up with questions before visiting the UCHS office for review.

Isla Vista Tenants Union: Ask to see the unit in person. Make sure the unit has everything you’re looking for. Spend some time talking to the property managers and develop a relationship. Discuss any parts of the lease needing clarification. Be sure that all your prospective housemates are on board and understand the terms of the lease. Some also find it useful to ask current or previous tenants their experiences living in the unit. 


What if I don’t have a parent to co-sign with me? 

UCSB Housing Office: Students without a co-signer may have different options depending on the management company and who their prospective roommates are. A student without a co-signer can have a roommate’s parent/guardian co-sign for them if they are willing to do so. If that is not an option, the student without a co-signer can talk to the management company to see if they would be willing to increase the security deposit in lieu of the co-signer.

Isla Vista Tenants Union: Some landlords require students to have a parent co-sign. But usually as long as you can prove your income and ability to pay rent, a parent co-sign is not needed. 

 What are my rights as a tenant? 

UCSB Housing Office: UCHS has a Student Success Guide online that goes over tenants’ rights and responsibilities.


What happens if I have a dispute with my landlord over my security deposit? 

UCSB Housing Office: Students with security deposit disputes can be assisted by UCHS. To avoid disputes, it is HIGHLY recommended that tenants have a move-in and move-out video in order to protect their deposit. For a small fee, UCHS will video the condition of the unit before move-in to document any pre-existing damages and then again at move-out to detail the condition of the unit at the end.

Isla Vista Tenants Union: The Isla Vista Tenants Union (IVTU) offers counseling to anyone having a dispute with their landlord including over security deposits! IVTU’s office is on the second floor of Pardall Center. Come by between 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for free service to UCSB students. 


What happens if I want to terminate a lease early? 

UCSB Housing Office: For privately-owned accommodations in the community, tenants generally need to find a replacement and pay a lease transfer fee in order to terminate their lease early. For university-owned housing, residents also need to find an eligible replacement, unless they cease to be a UCSB student, in which case their lease would likely be terminated.

Isla Vista Tenants Union: Terminating a lease early can be tricky. The most important thing is to make your landlord aware of your situation. You may be required to find a replacement tenant or continue paying if you leave the home. 


How does subleasing work? 

Isla Vista Tenants Union: If you won’t be living at your home for more than a few weeks such as during the summer term or looking for somewhere to live without being a primary tenant, you may want to consider subletting. Many online communities specialize in connecting people looking to sublet to those looking for this type of living arrangement. Landlords have the right to not allow subletting. The landlord may first want to screen the person subletting before allowing the arrangement. From then it depends on your situation whether the person subletting pays rent directly to the landlord or to the main tenant. Be sure which amenities will be provided to the person subletting such as a mattress or other furniture.   

A version of this article appeared on p. 4 of the Jan. 9, 2019 print edition of the Daily Nexus.