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Off-campus housing made simple

September 26th, 2013

As students are settling into their new dorm, house or apartment, the last thing on their minds is planning for next year’s housing. But in order to ensure a smooth, satisfying housing process, students might want to consider getting a head start. Differing from the usual laid-back attitude of the typical college student, the process to find off-campus housing calls for quick thinking and advanced planning.

Brockway Properties is a local business that helps college students find housing in both University Heights and South Euclid. Brockway has been working on handling properties with college students since 1999, and they currently have 17 properties, “80 percent” of which are occupied by JCU students.

“It’s absolutely important to get started early,” said Michael Embrescia, leasing manager of Brockway Properties. “Students should begin to look for [off-campus] housing now for next year.”

Embrescia said that students need to know the essentials, including what they are looking for, how many individuals they have with their group and how close they want to be to campus.

“Get your group together. Find out who you want to live with, and get people who are committed,” Embrescia said. Finding roommates can be the most important part; not only do students need to consider who are they willing to live with for a year, but also that they typically enter into the process for almost two years.

“Get your parents involved. You can handle it on your own, but getting the support from your parents can be extremely helpful,” said Embrescia.

Embrescia recommended going through the process with a company that knows what they are doing.

“Management is not an easy process,” Embrescia explained. “The houses are expensive and need to be kept up with. Certain people will try and take advantage of students by overpricing their properties. Work with a professional company.”

“It’s not the issue of finding the place, what’s difficult is finding the right one,” said Embrescia.“There are enough rentals out there, and you never know who you are working with until you start working with [a landlord]. If you rent from someone who just has one property and doesn’t know students and their concerns, it can be a difficult position. The landlord may not be open [to the] demands of the students.”

Not only do students have to consider the intricacies of living with other people, but University Heights also has a few important rules and regulations for renters. To rent in University Heights, one must get a rental permit from the City Building Department, regardless of one’s relation with the owner. Each non-relative must have their own room and be in the close vicinity of a full restroom.

The University Heights rental permit application states: “The dwelling unit is not, and will not be used, as a day care center, fraternity house, sorority house, residential cooperative, commune, dormitory, rooming house, boarding house, halfway house or equivalent occupancy.”

The permit also forbids three unrelated persons from occupying a house together; however, owners can petition for more than three tenants.

“Regular occupancy,” as defined by the city of University Heights, is the physical presence of a person in the dwelling unit overnight for at least 15 nights in a consecutive 30 day period.

Most students feel overwhelmed with the process of off-campus housing, but most see the advantages in doing so.

“Living off-campus could be cheaper,” sophomore David Weigel said. “Honestly, I feel as though there won’t be a lot of people I know on campus.”

Junior Taylor Hartman noted that it is a huge transition into the adult world, saying, “it’s harder to keep up with extra-curriculars.”

“I’m indifferent,” said junior Brittany Hawkins. “I would love to start looking for houses, but I don’t know where to start.”

No matter which house or which direction students decide to peruse in the process of off-campus housing, students must be aware and conscious of the system.

“Safety is the first priority,” Embrescia said.