Moving In To Your Off-Campus Home
Story provided by UWM’s Neighborhood Housing Office
It’s that time of year again, and we are excited to welcome more than 10,000 students back to Milwaukee’s east side this fall. We know for many it will be the first time they rent an off-campus apartment, duplex or house, and we want to share a reminder about the resources and services available to help UWM students be successful this year.
Here at UWM, we offer a variety of services and resources to support students through this transition and throughout the duration of their time living off-campus. Two services most pertinent to our students living off-campus are the Neighborhood Housing Office and University Legal Clinic. Both of these services have a plethora of resources available to your students, which we highly recommend taking advantage of!
The Neighborhood Housing Office is the one-stop shop for all off-campus living questions and is the main contact for anything UWM Neighborhood-related. Our website, http://uwm.edu/neighborhoodhousing/ is loaded with information and tools to help you get started off on the right renting foot. Additionally, we want to highlight our partner, the University Legal Clinic which is also available at no additional cost to UWM students. We encourage you and your student to follow the steps on our “Smart Renter’s Checklist” as your student gets situated in their new home for the year.
Smart renters take a few extra steps when they move-in to start things off on the right foot:
- Have your student review the University Legal Clinic (ULC) Tenant Right and Responsibilities Handbook, which is available online.
Most landlords use a standard Wisconsin Legal Blank Rental Agreement but some will include addendums or additional clauses like a nonstandard rental agreement. If anything in their lease/rental agreement prompts questions, have your student visit the ULC to have their lease or rental agreement reviewed.
- When your student moves in, make sure they use a check-in sheet to record the overall condition of the property. Most people will also take pictures or a video to document the overall state and any concerns they might have.
- Encourage your student to create a roommate agreement with their new roommates, even and especially with roommates who double as friends! Spending time talking about expectations around study and sleep schedules, how bills will be paid, overnight guests, cleaning and discussing how the roommates will approach conflict can save hours of headaches later.
These three important tips can greatly improve your student’s off-campus living experience. UWM students who report greater satisfaction with their off-campus living environment obtain higher grades and persist more towards the following year.
We also want to encourage UWM students to feel a sense of belonging and responsibility in their neighborhood and community. Please encourage your student to introduce themselves to their neighbors who are often a mix of long-term residents and fellow UWM students. Students building relationships in their community can significantly impact the entire community’s experience and quality of life. We find these positive practices tend to encourage community members to hold each other accountable and provide motivation to look out for one another in times of need.
Additionally, please keep in mind and share with your student the following information and suggestions:
- In the City of Milwaukee it is illegal for more than three unrelated adults to live together no matter how many bedrooms.
- If your student’s unit doesn’t offer parking, they can pick up a permit from a Milwaukee Police Department station for $55/year.
- Parents or family members who are cosigners should note that Wisconsin is a state where tenants can be held jointly and severally liable including co-signers. See Wisconsin Statute Chapter 704 and Chapter ATCP 134.
- Have your student obtain renters insurance just in case. Often times this can tail in with parents’ homeowners insurance. Be sure to talk to your insurance agent about this. Better safe than sorry!
- The Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services can often provide assistance if landlords are not properly caring for properties or making repairs in a timely matter.
We hope your student has a positive experience living off-campus in the neighborhoods around UWM. They are some of the most beautiful and historic around the city!