The experience of living off campus is almost always shaped by the location of the apartment, the dynamic of the people who live there and, of course, the landlord.
First, students must decide what they want in an apartment -- then, they must deal with the issues that arise while living there.
Michael Karp, owner of University City Housing Company said that the key for students is "looking early enough so they aren't precluded from good choices."
He also said that students who plan to live together should discuss their needs and certain logistics before they make a decision.
Often, students will drop out of a group, forcing the remaining members to start the process of apartment-hunting all over again.
His advice: "Know what your group dynamic is -- properly anticipate what you are looking for."
Michael Levin, owner of a small housing provider, says that too many times students are not specific enough about what they want. For example, they might know they want a two-bedroom apartment, but nothing else.
"It's like shopping for shoes and saying 'I want loafers'," Levin said. "They should provide as much information as they possibly can."
For example, students could say they wanted a two-bedroom apartment no further west than 43rd street, including size and price range.
Linda Coughlin, property manager for Apartments at Penn, thinks it's fun interacting with students on a regular basis.
When asked what she looks for in those students who approach her, she said simply that they should be polite and gracious.
Most of her interactions with students are positive.
"Every once in a while I have someone with a cavalier attitude," Coughlin said.
Once the lease is signed, students must then deal with their landlord or a larger company on a day-to-day-basis.
But Coughlin said she is understanding of the difficulties that students face.
She said, for example, that she is willing to hold checks until students know they will clear.
College sophomore Jess Friedman, who rents a six-bedroom apartment off-campus through Apartments at Penn has had a positive experience in dealing with her landlord.
"Whenever we have a problem in the house like a broken washing machine or a light that is out that we can't reach we call the landlord and our problem is almost always taken care of immediately," Friedman said.
"I would never complain about the service we get from our landlord," she added.
On the other hand, College sophomore Sam Rosenbaum, who lives in Hamilton Court, says that his needs have not been addressed in a timely fashion.
"We've had a number of small issues and [University City Housing has] been pretty unresponsive and not very helpful," he said.
Rosenbaum called and visited UCH office on numerous occasions requesting a replacement for his desk, which was falling apart. After several frustrating attempts, he was told that no more desks were being ordered. He was also unsuccessful in getting the malfunctioning buzzer for his apartment fixed.
Overall, however, Rosenbaum enjoys living in Hamilton Court -- to the extent that he re-signed his lease last Friday.
Like Rosenbaum, students have the option of choosing a large company, such as Campus Apartments or University City Housing.
However, some opt to deal with smaller businesses.
Levin runs his business and deals with maintenance issues himself.
He mentioned that he doesn't experience tension with tenants and has good rapport with them.
"People have said that the larger companies don't provide the same level of service," Levin said.
Levin's ability to provide one-on-one attention is helpful.
"I believe strongly that they enjoy the experience of having a smaller landlord," Levin said of his tenants. He sees this in the number of referrals he gets from students.
Whether large or small, off-campus housing providers draw students away from traditional dormitory settings each year.Comments powered by Disqus
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