Student Off-campus Housing Assistance
Please be aware that most apartment buildings in the county have an income minimum requirement of 3 TIMES the amount of rent in order for an applicant to qualify. With the average 2 bedroom apartment running $2,000 per month, an applicant would have to make $6,000 per month to qualify. (Financial aid, including loans or scholarships, is considered income.) It is impossible for most students to meet this requirement. Thus, they will need their parents to co-sign for them. Unfortunately, many apartments in Sonoma County refuse to accept co-signers. We suggest that you stick to this list in your search for housing. If you should contact an apartment not on this list, make sure that you will qualify without a co-signer before you pay an application fee. These fees are nonrefundable whether you qualify or not. Each of the students as well as their parents will have to submit an application and each pay application fees. It is important that students discuss this with their parents. You are asking them to take financial responsibility for the apartment as well as to divulge confidential financial information. To be fair, every parent should be on the lease as well as every student. The potential for bad credit is too much of a risk to place on one family. Do not take responsibility for someone else's child.
Most apartments require that you sign a lease. There are two types of leases: a fixed term lease, usually 6, 9, or 12 months, and a month to month lease. Signing a fixed term lease means that you will be responsible for paying the rent and living in the apartment for a certain amount of time. Occasionally, an apartment building will offer lower rent or a lower deposit in exchange for you signing a 6, 9, or 12 month lease. The advantage to a fixed term lease is that you can not be asked to move and your rent cannot be raised during the span of your lease. The disadvantage is that you cannot move should you find something better or decide to leave the area. A lease is a legal document that once signed cannot be broken without incurring penalties. Before signing any lease, you should find out what the penalty is to break it. A month to month lease is just that-it is in effect from one month to the next. The advantage to this type of lease is that you can move out at any time (granted you have given 30 days WRITTEN notice). This tends to be the better option for the nomadic student who goes home for the summer or is always on the lookout for that ever elusive house in the country. Also, if you don't get along with your new neighbors or are disappointed in your new apartment, you can leave after giving 30 days WRITTEN notice. The disadvantage of a month to month lease is that rent can be raised at any time and the landlord only has to give you 30 days (60 days if you have been their renter for more than 1 year) WRITTEN notice to vacate the premises. Always remember to read through the lease thoroughly before signing it. Make sure you understand ALL of it. If there is something in it that you don't like, discuss it with the manager. Don't ever feel rushed into signing anything and never accept the excuse that it is just like every other lease out there. Make sure that every tenant's name is on the lease. When students move out or move in, it is vital that the new tenant's name be added to the lease. Never take responsibility for someone else. If your roommates can't make the rent or cause a lot of damage, it is the person whose name is on the lease who will be held accountable. Finally, do not leave the manager's office without a copy of your lease. File it away in a safe place as you will definitely refer to it again in the future.