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WINTER, 2006
Volume 50,
Number 2


Inspiring while aspiring

'Your only limit is your imagination'

Mom and Dad of the Year recognized

Guiding students as they navigate education, career options

Avoiding rental anguish

Remarkable students, remarkable athletes

Learning while living

Trying a job on for size

Deadline approaches for residence hall self-assignment

Why live on campus?



The University of Iowa

Avoiding Rental Anguish: Tips for landing the right apartment

Spring semester is right around the corner. Along with preparing for the resumption of classes, students need to start thinking about fall housing prospects. For some students, that may mean reapplying to live in the residence halls (click here for details), but for others it means finding a rental unit off campus.

Ads for August vacancies start appearing in the local newspapers as early as January and February, so students who procrastinate too long may find a limited selection. To find the best situation, urge your student to consider the following. (Note: A helpful chart showing comparative costs/advantages of living in a residence hall versus off-campus is available here.)

Rent:  It is helpful to set a budget before exploring the rental  market. According to the Campus Information Center’s Housing Clearinghouse, the estimated average monthly rental rates for  Iowa City in 2006-07 are $322 for rooming houses, $530 for  efficiencies, $600 for a one-bedroom unit, $695 for two bedrooms, $1,024 for three bedrooms, and $1,606 for four bedrooms.

Extra expenses:  The monthly rent is just one piece of the pie. Expenses that may or may not be covered by rent include water, electricity, gas, garbage collection, lawn care, snow removal,  parking, cable/telephone/Internet service, and more. Also, most property owners ask for a security deposit, not to exceed two months’ rent, to guarantee the terms of the lease, and charge fees for late payment. Additional living expenses to consider include  utility deposits and hook-up charges, food, household supplies,  laundry, and transportation.

Insurance:  Property owners are not responsible for damage to their tenants’ personal property, so it is important to seek insurance coverage. Full-time students may have coverage under their parents’ homeowner’s insurance, but renter’s insurance usually is inexpensive.

Terms and conditions:   Before signing a lease, students need to read through the agreement and make sure they can live with its terms and conditions. Not all leases are alike, and different property owners  have different policies. Some may have strict rules regarding pets, smoking, parties, and/or guests. In addition, the City of Iowa City has restrictions on the number of unrelated people permitted to occupy a particular residence. It also is important to keep in mind that most leases are for 12 months, usually beginning Aug. 1, but differences may result in a lag between one lease and another.

Roommates:  In the residence halls, resident assistants are  available to help mediate roommate conflicts, but students living off campus are on their own. Before signing a lease and moving in together, potential roommates should discuss the following: living habits, bill paying, cleaning and other chores, schedules, visitors, noise, etc. Since each person who signs a lease is responsible for its terms (including full payment of rent and any damage), roommates have financial and legal obligations to each other. Urge your student to work out a roommate agreement beforehand—it may help  eliminate unpleasant situations in the future.

Problems:  A lease is a legally binding contract, and breaking one is risky and could lead to bad credit or a legal suit against the tenant. Students considering a 12-month lease who know they will not be living in Iowa City over the summer need to inquire about the  possibility of subleasing—or else be willing to fulfill the terms of the lease. To learn more about rights and responsibilities, students can contact the Tenant/Landlord Association (TLA), a commission of UI Student Government that offers educational outreach to both tenants and landlords. Forms, information, and other resources are available on the TLA web site at

Helpful resources:  The Campus Information Center posts vacancy listings as well as information for people seeking roommates at Also,  online newspaper classified ads at and are updated daily. Additional online resources include, a collaborative effort of several University groups and the City of Iowa City, and, a comprehensive site maintained by the city.



Published by University Relations Publications. Copyright The University of Iowa 2004. All rights reserved.

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