Don’t be homeless after graduation

By Michael Logli

After graduation students are faced with finding a new place to live whether they move back home or decide to venture out on their own.

Tenant unions off-campus rarely exist anymore, said Esther Patt, coordinator of the University tenant union.

“In most places, you’re not going to be able to find anything like us,” Patt said.

Some tenant unions do exist in Texas and Washington, but many of those do not have landlord critiques or detailed information.

Patt also said the area someone searches in affects the availability of residences in the market.

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For example, it may be easier to find an apartment in Chicago than in New York. This does not mean the information is unattainable, though. Patt said it is simply harder to get to it.

When looking for a new residence, the first place to check should be the classified section of the area’s newspaper, Patt said. Some classified ads are online, but she said many people only use the Internet as a source and miss opportunities for good deals. The Internet is not a complete source.

“Check the classified section,” Patt added. “Most people don’t do that.”

It can be difficult to tell whether a landlord is fair, but Patt said the best way to avoid a tricky situation is to talk to current tenants, preferably those who have lived in the apartment for several months already.

“Try to talk to previous tenants if possible, but it’s harder,” she said.

Because many graduates do not properly search for a place to live, they often end up paying much more than they need to.

Patt said many graduates spend 40 percent of their income on rent and utilities, which can easily be avoided with research.

“Students pay ridiculously high prices for homes when they don’t have to,” Patt said.

A graduating student must also be aware of the different landlord-tenant rules that have to be followed. In Chicago, these rules are particularly strict, but few tenants are aware of them, said Aaron Krolik, a lawyer who specializes in landlord-tenant law.

“No other state has laws as unique as Chicago’s,” Krolik said. “You need to know the law.”

Landlords in Chicago are required to give receipts for security deposits and separate the deposit from rent and utilities, but since this is not always stated in the lease, many tenants do not realize it. As a result, landlords can get away with the money. But if they are caught, Krolik said the tenant is entitled to double their initial security deposit.

“All of those infractions, however tiny, can get two times the security deposit back,” Krolik said. “But just reading the lease isn’t enough.”

For Andres Lopez, senior in LAS, the plan is to stay at home for as long as possible.

“I’m living at home in my mom’s basement,” Lopez said.

If he did move, he would like to stay in the Chicago area, but Lopez said that staying home has its advantages, including good food and a stable place to live. Though he has no immediate concerns, he said he knows he will have to leave one day.

“I’m not looking forward to moving any time soon,” Lopez said.