Will you look for off-campus housing? By doing a thorough apartment search and being very selective about both the apartment and the landlord, you can prevent many potential housing problems. Here are some steps to follow as you search for off-campus housing.
Unless it is in a large apartment complex that is professionally managed, we DO NOT recommend renting an apartment without seeing it first. Choosing a place to live is one of the most important decisions you will make when you come to Buffalo. Please be careful!
There are many websites where you can find advertisements (“ads”) for apartments. The problem with most of these websites is that the apartments do not have to pass any inspection before they are listed. Therefore, while some of the apartments may be in good condition and in safe neighborhoods, others may be in poor condition and in unsafe neighborhoods.
UB's Off-Campus Student Services Property Listing restricts its advertisements to apartments that have passed inspection. Therefore, it is the only website we recommend to students who are seeking off-campus housing. Note: UBRents.com is a private business. It has no connection to the University at Buffalo.
We strongly advise you to find out the location of the potential housing in relation to UB’s North and South Campuses by checking this map.
We also strongly advise you to research potential housing by finding out the crime rate in the neighborhood.
To understand the abbreviations in apartment ads, read Deciphering Rental Property Ads.
The Office of International Student Services does not endorse any of the websites below EXCEPT THE FIRST ONE.
Note: UBRents.com is a private business. It has no connection to the University at Buffalo.
Visit potential neighborhoods at different times of the day before choosing a place to live. Once you’ve located a potential place, visit and inspect the apartment carefully.
Ask the following questions:
Renting an attic or basement apartment is illegal in New York State if there is only one exit. If you live there and it comes to the attention of the housing authorities, you will be required to move out of the apartment immediately.
No hot water, inadequate heating, dangerous wiring, mold, insects, rodents are some examples. Unlivable conditions can be legal grounds to break a lease. If you live in bad conditions for too long, it becomes more difficult for you to argue that the apartment is unlivable, however.
When you rent an apartment, do your best to ensure that there are no bed bugs. If all of the previous tenants moved out, try to find out why they moved out. To determine if bed bugs may be present, check out these photos.
A bad landlord can cause you unending problems. Find out as much as you can about the landlord BEFORE YOU SIGN THE LEASE. You can do so by contacting members of your International Student Club. You should also interview the landlord carefully and ask many questions. If a landlord refuses to answer your questions or is evasive, find another landlord and apartment.
Here are some important questions to ask the landlord:
Take your lease to SBI Legal Assistance (UB North Campus, 315 Student Union, Tel. 716-645-3056) for review by an attorney before signing it. (This service is free for all UB students.)
During International Student Orientation, SBI Legal Assistance will be open on Monday - Friday from 12:00-5:00. Please contact SBI Legal Assistance for hours during the semester and school breaks.
Keep these points in mind:
Some landlords (including some who speak your language and come from your country) will try to exploit you in order to make money. Always keep in mind that your relationship with your landlord is a business relationship, not a friendship. Do not allow landlords to exploit you!
This means that, if your roommate moves out, you will be expected to pay the full rent.
Since you will likely have to pay a security deposit when you move in and will not get it back if there is any damage to your apartment, it is a good idea to take photos of any existing damage in your apartment when you move in. Fill out an “Apartment Inventory and Condition Report” as well.
Some UB international students have had problems with bed bugs. To avoid these problems, be sure not to move into an apartment which is infested with bed bugs. After you move into the apartment, keep these points in mind:
Do not pay cash and don't pay too much in advance. If you pay cash, there will be no record of your rental payments unless you get a receipt. Therefore, it’s better to pay your rent by personal check. And, while it is typical for a landlord to ask for first and last months' rent plus a security deposit, never pay more than that amount in advance.
Since your landlord's insurance will not cover your personal belongings, you should consider purchasing renter’s insurance in case of theft, fire, loss or damage to your personal effects.
If you have a complaint, call your landlord, but be sure to follow up your phone call by sending him/her a letter in the mail. (Don’t forget to keep a copy for yourself.) If you have to go to Court, written evidence is the best kind, and the Court will accept such letters as evidence that the landlord was informed of the problem.
Be a good neighbor. Your neighbors can be your most valuable resource. Introduce yourself to neighbors whom you feel are trustworthy. Develop a good relationship with them by keeping the noise down and keeping your property clean.