Moving Off-Campus: 5 Legal Dangers to Avoid

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on August 13, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

With a new school year beginning soon, many college students will be eschewing the relatively predictable (if sometimes underwhelming) world of on-campus housing and moving off-campus.

If you're planning on living off-campus for the first time, finding somewhere that fits your budget is just the first step. What else do you need to know to keep your off-campus living situation from becoming a legal nightmare?

Here are five legal dangers you'll want to avoid when moving off-campus:

  1. Make sure your prospective landlord actually owns the place. It may be tempting to sign a lease and fork over a deposit on that perfect place, but before you do, make sure the person you're dealing with actually owns or manages the property. A San Francisco man was recently arrested after removing a "for sale" sign from a property and telling a prospective tenant he was renting out the property for his father. The tenant agreed to give the man a $1,500 cashier's check as a deposit, but luckily discovered the scam before she handed over the money.
  2. Make sure what you see is what you actually get. Be sure to double check your lease agreement to make sure that the amenities that make the property desirable are actually included in your lease. For example, parking spots may not be included in your lease, forcing you to seek street parking.
  3. Multiple roommates can multiply your potential legal problems. When it comes to moving into an off-campus house or apartment, the more (roommates) the merrier, right? Well, it depends. Having multiple roommates raises many legal issues, such as: Who's actually on the lease? What if a roommate's boyfriend or girlfriend wants to move in? What if a roommate wants to move out early? To learn more, you'll want to check out this blog post.
  4. Remember that off-campus rules apply. Many colleges handle on-campus partying within their own disciplinary systems. Once you're off-campus, however, you can and will be cited by police for doing anything illegal, such as being a minor in possession of alcohol.
  5. Watch out for moving scams. Even if your place checks out, you can still get scammed while getting your stuff to your new place. Moving scams, in which a moving company quotes you one number, but demands a significantly higher amount once all your stuff is loaded onto their truck are an annual summer scammer favorite.

If problems arise with your landlord once you move in, you can find out more about your rights as a tenant at FindLaw's Learn About the Law section on Tenant Rights.

  • Legal problems eating away at your daily life? Browse's Lawyer Directory for an attorney who's right for you.

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