Utilities should be priority during apartment search

Venturing away from the dorms for the first time and into an apartment is exciting for many students. Rules are diminishing, and freedom is increasing. However, what many students do not consider are the costs of these freedoms, especially utilities.

“A lot of times students are very foolish, said Esther Patt, coordinator for the Tenant Union.

Patt suggests looking at more than advertisements when shopping for an apartment.

“Advertising isn’t legally binding,” Patt said. “You need to see the lease.”

Having utilities included in rent is not always the best option, Patt says.

“A lot of times the rent is higher when utilities are included,” Patt said. “You might end up paying more than if you had handled utilities on your own.”

Shopping for an apartment with utilities included may not end up being the most economical.

“Landlords will sometimes advertise utilities included, and it ends up being pest control and maintenance,” she explained. “If people are shopping for utilities included, they may not be in control.”

A problem many students face is internet.

“Many students want internet included, and every year we get complaints about it,” Patt said.

“You could end up going to Comcast and getting internet through them, and you’ll pay higher rent and end up paying for your own cable.”

Some students become frustrated with dealing with cable and internet.

“Cable is annoying and Comcast isn’t always that helpful,” said Sevgi Sipahi, senior in LAS. “It just takes a while to set up wireless boxes and deal with passwords.”

One student encountered problems with having internet included.

“The apartment I live in now has internet included but it is not very good,” said recent graduate Brian Kalal.

Another issue many students face in apartments is splitting utilities between roommates.

“The best way to keep costs down is to be economical about electric, water and gas,” Patt said. “That’s one of the problems with roommates.”

Patt suggests splitting the utility bills between roommates.

“If you get a roommate who doesn’t pay their bills then it won’t all fall on one person,”

Kalal agrees that splitting the bills is a good way to handle utilities.

“Have one roommate for cable, the other for electric,” he said.

“They usually come out to be about the same with some changes in fall and winter.”

There are some issues that students face having roommates that they would not have if they lived alone.

“When you live alone it is really easy to turn the air conditioning off when you leave for the day,” Pat explained.

“Same with computers, it is pointless to have a computer on during the day if there is no one home.”