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BU’s Off-Campus Housing Fair Today

Resources, tips on renting your own place

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Thinking about moving off campus next year? Or perhaps you already live off campus, but aren’t sure if your apartment is up to code? Stop by today’s Off-Campus Housing Fair, being held from 4 to 6 p.m. in the George Sherman Union Back Court, to learn how to navigate Boston’s sometimes overwhelming rental market. The fair is free and open to the BU community.

At the fair, students can talk with more than 20 local realtors, representatives from the city of Boston’s Inspectional Services Department, BU’s Rental Property Management office, Environmental Health and Safety, the Boston Police, the BU Police Department, and the School of Medicine’s Housing Resources office. There will be information on what to look for in an apartment, what to know before signing a lease, the difference between legal and illegal fees, renter’s insurance, a tenant’s rights and responsibilities, and how to be a good neighbor.

Students can always find important housing tips on both the city of Boston’s housing website and BU’s Off-Campus Services website.

“Students are adults, and they have choices in life,” says Kenneth Elmore (SED’87), dean of students. “So we want to empower them to make a decision on where to live. When students think about moving off campus, they need to think about where they want to live, how to keep themselves safe, how to negotiate with a third party, how they will manage the aspects of running a household, and lots of other things that they might not think about right away.”

Kim Santo (CAS’00, SED’00,’02), assistant director of Judicial Affairs and Off-Campus Services, says the Off-Campus Housing Fair is for students moving off campus for the first time and for students who already live off campus, but want to learn more about their rights.

One of the most important resources available to students, Santo says, is Boston’s Inspectional Services Department, which will have representatives at the fair. “We tell students to first talk to their landlord if something doesn’t seem right or safe, but then to call Boston’s Inspectional Services Department if there is still a problem,” she says. For instance, the department requires rental units to be registered on an annual basis, and inspections to be conducted on a five-year cycle. If students believe their apartment fails to meet the local and state sanitary and building codes, they should first notify their landlord in writing. If the necessary repairs are not made, they should contact the Inspectional Services Department.

This year, Santo says, the Boston department is cracking down on overcrowded apartments in response to fires in the area, one of which killed a BU student last April. The no-more-than-four policy, which allows a maximum of four undergraduates to live in a Boston apartment, is strictly enforced in the Allston and Brighton neighborhoods.

“Students might not be aware of their rights, or they may be afraid to speak up to the landlord,” Santo says. “But the way the law is written, it is mostly in favor of the renter.”

The Off-Campus Housing Fair is today, Wednesday, February 12, from 4 to 6 p.m., in the GSU Back Court. For more information, visit the Off-Campus Housing Facebook page.

For more information about landlords’ and tenants’ rights and responsibilities, check out Boston’s Rental Housing Resource Center or call 617-635-RENT (7368). The city also has a 24-hour hotline, 617-635-4500, for questions or to report a rental housing issue.

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Amy Laskowski

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu.

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