FAQ

 

When do I need to start searching for off-campus housing for next year?
What kinds of housing options are available off-campus?
Who are the landlords and companies that maintain properties for undergraduate students? Can Off-Campus Services recommend a particular landlord, company or realtor?
How much can we expect to pay per month?
What about the community? Is it safe to live off-campus?
How do off-campus leases work?
I receive financial aid. How will this work for students who live off-campus?
What is the role of Off-Campus Services in the off-campus housing search?


When do I need to start searching for off-campus housing for next year?

If you are interested in sharing a large house or apartment with other students, you will have to start thinking about housing as early as November the year prior to your move. Actual listings of available properties do not get advertised until the last two weeks of November and throughout December. You may want to be aware, though, many places never get to be advertised; they are handed down from one student group to another. However, housing is available throughout the entire year. Many apartment communities have leases starting throughout the year. Once you are sure you want to live off campus, February and March are the most common months to begin your search.

What kinds of housing options are available off-campus?

Private homes, Private homes divided into apartments and apartment buildings. Styles can range from brand new buildings to historic and renovated buildings. Many communities offer studio apartments appropriate for one person. One bedroom apartments can typically accommodate two people, while many two bedroom apartments can accommodate up to four people. Many private houses can accommodate larger groups.

Who are the landlords and companies that maintain properties for undergraduate students? Can Off-Campus Services recommend a particular landlord, company or realtor?

Our office is unable to make specific recommendations with regard to landlords and their properties. Off-Campus Services maintains a property listing database that students can utilize to search for available apartments. The inclusion of a landlord’s properties in the OCS database is not an endorsement or approval of the landlord, its properties or its business practices. All prospective tenants are encouraged to exercise their own good judgment when evaluating a rental unit or landlord.

How much can we expect to pay per month?

The pricing information below reflects 2017 one-year leases for unfurnished units.

University City/West Philadelphia

Studio $800-$1,700
One-bedroom $900-$1,800
Two-bedroom $1395-$2,000

Center City

Studio $1175-$1,800
One-bedroom $1250-$2,300
Two-bedroom $1,825-$3,000

See more averages:

Utilities are rarely included in the cost of houses but may be included in the cost of apartments.

What about the community? Is it safe to live off-campus?

With the increased freedom of independent living comes increased responsibility for one's own safety. University City is a thriving, diverse neighborhood where many University students (graduate and undergraduate), faculty, and staff live and work. The University provides many resources for students' safety and well-being. PennTransit provides shuttle service to all PennCard holders for the areas surrounding campus. In addition, a student may request a walking or bike escort when returning home in the evening. To minimize risk, students should be aware of their surroundings at all time, travel alone as little as possible and take steps to ensure the apartment or house has appropriate safety features and is kept secure by the tenants. Please visit the Department of Public Safety website for more information

How do off-campus leases work?

All leases are contracts; your signature acknowledges that you are entering into a legal agreement. This is also true of on-line leases with an electronic signature. Be sure before you sign. Once the agreement or lease is signed, you are committed to the agreement. This contract will hold true even if for some reason you do not attend Penn. Typically, lease dates reflect the calendar year; not the academic year. Most leases are one-year agreements, however, many landlords will allow a shorter term with a paid premium. Most landlords will ask for an application fee when applying for your apartment. Other fees such as security deposits, amenity fees, first month's rent, and last month's rent may also be required.  Landlords will need to qualify you for your apartment which may mean a credit check or background check. Many landlords also ask for a Guarantor or Co-Signer for your lease. Guarantors and Co-signers will assure that your monthly payments will be made to the landlord. Guarantors and Co-signers are typically parents or guardians and may be subject to a credit check. In a share situation, all tenants are jointly and severally responsible for the lease. If one roommate leaves, you are still responsible for all the rent. All the roommates should sign the lease so that all are equally responsible. There are some landlords that institute an individual lease; and if one of your roommates leaves; you are not responsible for their portion of the rent. This also means that the landlord can re-rent the space to someone applying for housing and not necessarily someone you know.

I receive financial aid. How will this work for students who live off-campus?

If you receive financial aid, in most instances the amount and distribution schedule is the same, whether you live on or off campus. Financial Aid for more information about financial aid and living off-campus.

What is the role of Off-Campus Services in the off-campus housing search?

Off-Campus Services is a resource for members of the Penn community, including current and prospective undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff and alumni, who are navigating an off-campus housing search. The staff is here to assist in all stages of the off-campus living experience, including support in locating appropriate housing, identify items to look for and understand in your lease and learning about tenant/landlord rights and responsibilities. The University of Pennsylvania and Off-Campus Services will not be involved in any negotiations between the leaseholder (member of the Penn community) and any landlord, property owner, student, prospective student or realtor before, during or after any agreement.

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