Life: A Room Of Your Own


Originally Appeared in The Phoenix

It's junior year and the thought of ever having to deal with another RA telling you to stop using your George Foreman grill in your room makes you want to vomit. You're independent. After all, you have an Idaho state ID that says you're 32. It's about time you move into your own place, where you don't have to hide the bong and friends can visit whenever they want. But first, you probably need some advice. So we've compiled a list of everything you need to know when looking for that first apartment.

There are a lot of landlords who want to rent to students, which makes complete sense given the amount of colleges in the area. But make sure you don't enter into a lease with anyone who might try to take advantage of you. Here's a good rule of thumb: Never rent from the guy who sells himself as the "cool" landlord. Usually he'll still attach a "y" to the end of his name (Joey!) and talk about ripping shots with you and your bros or tell stories about all the "hot broads" he rents to.

You don't want to deal with that shit. Allowing one of these douchebags to be your landlord will result in unannounced visits (you're supposed to get 48 hours notice) and a contentious relationship when you stop letting him drink your beer or refuse to sleep with him. Always remember that just because you're a student and this might be your first apartment, your rights are no different from the 45-year-old hippy who lives in the basement.


Craigslist can be an awfully deceiving place. All the women appear to be extra horny, everyone has something to sell, and the sheer volume of available jobs will leave you wondering how unemployment is at a record high. So if you think you found a wicked good deal for an apartment, make sure you turn on that thinking cap that got you into college in the first place.

If it's an East Side apartment that features a Jacuzzi, pool, and utilities included for $225 a month, you're probably going to get mugged when you check it out. If the alleged landlord asks you to Western Union $1000 to East Bumblefuck, Nigeria, don't. If you ask who to make out the check to and the e-mailer responds by saying, "straight cash homie," it would be wise to look elsewhere.

There are people who will tell you it is illegal for landlords to require first and last month's rent in addition to a security deposit when you move in. But according the Residential Landlord Tenant Act of 1987, he or she can do just that. If your parents are paying, this doesn't matter and you should just move along. But if you're working or using student loan money to pay rent, find a place that won't cost you so much up front and save that money for important things like booze and Gushers.

Even if you mistakenly take that apartment with Joey the Landlord, he can't just raise the rent because you didn't offer the last Bud Light in your refrigerator or refused to sleep with him because he's 40 and still collects baseball cards. In fact, you must receive a written notice 30 days prior to any increase in monthly costs.

This is crucial. If you're into staying up all night, smoking pot, and sleeping with everything on legs, don't live with the Christian kid who spends his free time at Bible study and has never been alone in the same room with a woman that wasn't his mother. He'll always resent you and he'll tell his friends you smell like a skunk. Also, you can bet horrible, HORRIBLE things will happen to your toothbrush throughout the year.

While Providence is a great place to live, you should probably know the city is dead broke. Which means it will constantly attempt to scrape every penny it can off of you while you live here. Last year, the Mayor tried to tax you simply for being a student in the city. So don't expect the 1–7 am parking ban to be lifted any time soon. If you have a car, make sure you're guaranteed a parking spot or be prepared to pay a lot in fines.

If you live in a first floor or basement level apartment, don't shit yourself when you see a tiny mouse run across the kitchen floor. Yes, they're disgusting, but you're the one who threw a rager and didn't bother to wash the floor afterward. Rats are a different story. If you see those guys anywhere near your house, feign the plague and contact your landlord immediately.

Even if you've got a roommate you hope dies in his sleep, have started naming the rats, and have less water pressure than most South American huts, you can't just stop paying rent. It doesn't work like that and anyone who tells you it does probably still lives with his mother. If you have a complaint, you must notify your landlord and give him 20 days to fix the problem. If the problem persists, you must give two weeks' notice that you plan to terminate the rental agreement. Keep your documents!

If you happen to be late with rent, it's not the end of the world. Many landlords will allow you to work it out as long as the problem doesn't become habitual. And even if you do have someone less than accommodating to deal with, there is still a process (it usually takes over a month) they have to go through to evict you. So don't worry that you're going to come home one day to find your lava lamp on the pavement and the locks changed on the doors.

In addition to finding the right roommates and paying your rent on time, make sure you're always aware of your surroundings. Much as you'd like to think otherwise, this isn't your city. You go home to mom every other month. So before you decide to terrorize the neighborhood with crappy music and garbage fires, remember the people trying to raise families here. You can still have a great experience without being a douchebag.


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