Off-Campus Housing

Exteriors of houses in University Heights neighborhoods.

Are you thinking about living off-campus? Here are some helpful tips.

Before You Move In:

Tip 1: Do Your Research

We encourage you to use care when considering rental properties.  We recommend only renting properties that have passed a safety inspection by a New York State certified inspector within the last three years, or a property in which the owner lives on site. While there are many websites advertising apartments, not all sites list only apartments that passed inspection. Therefore, it is important to be careful and do your research before signing a lease.

Tip 2: View the Apartment

Because choosing a place to live is one of the most important decisions you will make when you come to Buffalo, it's a good idea to visit and inspect the apartment.

Think about:

Tip 3: Learn about your landlord

It's a good idea to 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 can also interview the landlord. If a landlord refuses to answer your questions, it might be a good idea to consider other options.

You might want to ask:

  • Do you live nearby? Can you quickly respond to emergencies? What is the procedure for requesting repairs?
  • How many people can live in the apartment?
  • How much is the security deposit? How much of it do you typically refund the tenant at the end of the lease?
  • Will the locks be changed before I move in?
  • Are utilities (electricity, water, heat) included in the rent?
  • What are the average monthly costs for utilities? 
  • Are the appliances (stove, oven, refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher, washer, dryer) in good condition?
  • Will you supply garbage containers and recycling bins?  Where are they stored?  When is garbage collected?
  • Is there a laundry on-site?  Is it coin-operated? 

Tip 4: Be careful when paying your rent and security deposit

Do not pay cash and don't pay too much in advance. It’s best to pay your rent by personal check, as you will then have a record of having paid. 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.

Before moving in with roommates, understand that all tenants are each responsible for all of the rent (not just their part of the rent).

This means that, if your roommate moves out, you will be expected to pay the full rent.

Tip 5: Consider Renter's Insurance

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.

After You Move In:

Tip 6: Document the condition of your apartment when moving in

You will probably have to pay a security deposit when you move in and will not get it back if there is any damage to your apartment, so it's wise to take photos of any existing damage in your apartment when you move in. Most reputable landlords will ask you to fill out an “Apartment Inventory and Condition Report”. This is for their protection - and yours!

Tip 7: Document any complaints you make to your landlord

If you have a complaint, call your landlord, but it's a good idea to follow up with an email. 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.

Tip 8: Get to know your neighbors

Your neighbors can be your most valuable resource! Introduce yourself to neighbors and develop a good relationship with them by keeping the noise down and keeping your property clean.

Tip 9: Contact Authorities if you have a serious problem with your landlord or housing.

If you have a serious problem with your landlord or housing, you should know who to contact. 

  • Living in Erie County and need to file a complaint? Erie County Department of Health has a list of resources:
  • New York State Attorney General's office has information on housing.
  • U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development lists Tenant Rights online. Be informed on your rights and how to obtain legal assistance if needed.
Do not tolerate situations that jeopardize your health

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.

Looking for more information?

The New York State Attorney General has information on Tenants' Rights here.