view to downtown

Legal information to know
House/apartment hunting on Craigslist website
How do I get along with my roommate?
Things to do before moving in
Signing the lease
Information that a lease should include
Move-in travel kit
Helpful tips
Transportation options
Budget list
Furniture shopping advice
Important phone numbers
Breaking a lease
Leaving your old apartment?
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
The Gem
Fraternity & Sorority Life
Off-campus renting guides (PDFs and websites)
Need extra assistance? (Contact information)


Legal Information to Know

The following information are lease provisions that are considered illegal.

  1. Provision stating that the tenant will not receive any of the deposit or prepaid rent back.
  2. Charging a late fee more than 10% of the monthly rent
  3. A provision that prohibits the tenant to defend him/herself during court in a situation where the landlord suits or evicts the tenant.
  4. A provision that says that the tenant must not be notified of actions such as termination, or a court conflict.
  5. A provision that terminates the rental agreement without notification and the tenant is forced out of the apartment by the landlord.
  6. A provision that allows the landlord to enter the dwelling of the tenant and switch locks to prevent the tenant from entering or denying entrance to the apartment when the tenant is late onrent.
  7. A provision that allows the landlord to keep the tenants personal property if the tenant is late on rent or after an eviction.


The federal law prohibits the landlord to deny any application or individuals based on their gender, class, color, race etc.

House/apartment hunting and Craigslist website

On Craigslist, you can find:

  • Houses

  • Apartments

  • Rooms for rent

  • Temporary housing

  • Furniture

To get an apartment on Craigslist:

  • Find an apartment listing you like

  • Email or call the poster

  • Go see the apartment before giving any money or personal information

Avoid Scams!

  • Don’t send sensitive information or documents through email (example: passport information, bank account numbers, etc.)

  • Never send or wire money to anyone.  It is better to do it in person.

The Corvallis Gazette-Times Classifieds and Albany Democrat-Herald Classifieds are two more options to search when looking for housing online.

How do I get along with my roommate?

  1. Be Aware: Take into consideration the possibilities of who your roommate can be. If you don’t know this person all that well, consider doing a background check on them before moving in.
  2. Term: Will this person be your roommate all year around or a few months?  If so, how will a new roommate be selected?
  3. Payments: Do you both have the ability to make payments? Will they be done separately or together? When making payments, pay to the landlord/owner, they provide proof of payment so there won’t be any misunderstanding in the near future. Will each roommate pay evenly, or does another pay more for another feature they have in their room?
  4. Environments: Will there be any areas shared? Is there a personal study room? Are there any study preferences? What are your study habits? Can there be music, television, video games playing in background while someone is studying? Pet Peeves?
  5. House Cleaning: Will there be a schedule? Are there divided chores? Does each person clean their own space? Pet Peeves in the kitchen? How clean is considered clean to each? How does one person let the other person aware of uncleanliness?
  6. Food Policy: Will grocery shopping be done together? How often? Spending limit for each person? Will food be shared? Will each roommate provide their own food?
  7. Essentials: Garbage bags, toiletries, paper towels, will the cost be shared?
  8. Personal Belongings: Will personal items be shared? What is off limits? What don’t you mind sharing?
  9. Privacy: Do you have each other’s permission to enter each other’s room? Can visitors enter roommate’s room? How much information can be shared about each other to visitor’s asking?
  10. Visitors: Will there be parties? After what time/days are visitor’s allowed? Must leave? Is there a limit of visitors at once? Overnight guests? How long? Where will guests sleep?
  11. Under the Influence or Above: Are drugs allowed in the house? How will the situation be handled if there is? Is alcohol allowed in the house? Are there rules? Are there limits? Is there smoking allowed in the house? Will there be caution when it comes to having possession of alcohol or drugs?
  12. Relationship: Are you looking for a friendship or just a strict roommate?
  13. Communication: Will you only keep in contact for emergencies? Stay communicated about any concerns or conflicts related to mutual belongings, for example: Apartment before they concern or conflict becomes bigger. Honesty is the best policy.
  14. Lease: There are possibilities that something can occur so signing separate leases may be necessary at times. If something occurs to one roommate, the other roommate (s) may be left with the financial burdens. However, if they are signed separately, each roommate is responsible for their own portion of rent.
  15. Utilities: What utilities will be provided by apartment complex? Are there any you will provide on your own? If so, will each roommate pay even for it or will it just be one person? Who will be signing up for utilities?
  16. Rules: Are there any allergies roommates should be aware of? Anything that is absolutely not acceptable? Pet Peeves?
  17. Roommate Contract: There will be a roommate contract available to print in case there is a need to go back and refer to these questions any time.

Things to do before moving in

Begin a countdown: The steps that one needs to make before moving in are ...

  1. Establish a desirable and appropriate cost. Try to think about what kind of housing you want to live in for the upcoming year, whether it be an apartment, house, or any other dwelling. Another factor to consider is the price you are willing to pay and can afford.
  2. Make a list of the amenities that you would like.
  3. When deciding what things one would like to have available in the dwelling, one should separate the desirable amenities versus the needed amenities. Keep in mind that some of the desirable amenities may include a higher rent.
  4. Decide who you want to live with.
  5. The first step is to decide whether you want to share an apartment with roommates or if you are planning on living alone. If you are planning on sharing an apartment with others, consider asking friends if they want to rent an apartment with you. Renting a house or an apartment can reduce individual costs.
  6. Apartment Visiting
  7. Once you have found an apartment that seems to accommodate your price range as well as other needs, visit the apartment or house to see the structure of it as well as condition of the home. Seeing pictures on the internet of the apartment is different than seeing them in person, one can see the size as well as the amenities available. When visiting apartment complexes, ask to see units that are not models, as the models will most likely not be an accurate representation of what your apartment will really look like. Remember to ask questions when you do not understand something or want to know further information about the home.
  8. Introduce yourself to the landlord.
  9. Establishing a healthy relationship with the landlord from the beginning is always a plus. Landlords will usually help you when there is a maintenance problem occurring in your apartment, and if the landlord knows you, he or she will most likely help you with pleasure. Also, landlords can answer several questions you can have, so they are a great source. This is also a great opportunity to make new friends in the area!

Signing the Lease

  1. Pre-lease agreeement Before signing a lease, the landlord will most likely ask you to sing a “pre-lease agreement.” One of the problems associated with these pre-lease agreements is that you might find yourself bound to the leasing contract by signing the pre-lease contract, even though you might not be ready to commit.
  2. Security Deposit Many landlords ask for a security deposit at the time the lease will be signed. Be prepared to pay the current month, as well as last month’s rent. Any sum that you pay to your landlord as a form of security for damages before signing the lease is considered “security.” The total amount of security deposit should not be more than one and one-half month’s rent. Make sure that the charges you pay at the beginning of your tenancy are clearly explained in your lease. Also, know when and how you will receive your security deposit back. Does your lease specify what kind of damages you will be held accountable for?
  3. Written agreement Make sure that lease is in written form, and that the rental agreement includes all agreements between you and the landlord. If your landlord does not supply a written agreement, create a list of terms yourself and discuss them with your landlord and ask him to initial them and sign the document at the end.
  4. Read, time and questions Read all the information included in the rental agreement without rushing through it. Make sure to read every word included in the rental agreement to avoid future confusions and conflicts; with this comes time. Take enough time to understand all the information that is included in the lease and ask questions when you do not understand material in the rental agreement. Do not leave sections of your lease blank, if you do, draw a line across that section.
  5. Negotiate If you find information that you do not agree with, try to negotiate with your landlord to come to an agreement where both of you are satisfied. Before you sign the lease, make sure that all your needs are addressed.
  6. Sign the lease When signing the lease, make sure you are signing what you agreed on with the landlord and take your time. If you feel pressured by the landlord to sign the lease, ask for a moment to think about your decision. You should not feel pressured by your landlord to sign the rental agreement. Also, remember to include all of the damages that the dwelling already has in writing just to make sure that you will not be held accountable for them when you move out. After signing the lease, make sure to receive a copy of it from the landlord.

Information Lease Should Include

  • Beginning and ending dates.
  • Show amount and type of security deposit
  • List the name of the owner and manager and their contact information
  • List the terms and agreements
  • Name of all the inhabitants
  • State whether it is a rental agreement or a fixed-term lease.
  • Rent amount and the day rent is due. What happens if you pay late, fees?
  • Information about repairs and maintenance assistance
  • Restrictions, including if pets are allowed. If they are allowed, is there a restriction to them?

Move-in Travel Kit

  • The keys to the apartment: it may seem obvious but this item should be the first things you walk out with.
  • Directions to the apartment: Just in case you do not get lost, take the directions to the apartment. You can also take a GPS or a map just to make the trip easier.
  • Take enough money: You never know when you might need some money, and it is a good idea to take some with you when you are just settling in. This money can be used for lunch or to buy any necessary material for the move-in day.
  • Take Toiletries materials: Items include from shampoo, soap, towels, toothbrush, toothpaste, and most importantly toilet paper. The last thing you want to happen is to use the restroom and find out you forgot to bring toilet paper.
  • Take the needed kitchen material: Items include from plates, cups, utensils, paper towels, soap, sponge, snacks, and water, and trash cans. Depending on how you are moving in, whether you are bringing all material at once or little by little, is how much food you want to pack the fridge or cabinets with. If you are moving in a day or two, you might want to buy more food instead of a little if you were to be moving in little by little to avoid any food to expire.
  • Other material to consider: Consider bringing in extra clothes, blankets, pillows, and shoes. Moving-in to a new home can be exhausting and one can sure appreciate a nap. Also, bring medicine needed.
  • Important documents to take: Take the copy of your lease just in case any questions come up. Also take any important documentation such as license, credit card, or phone book.
  • Tools: The items include from nails, hammer, tape, measuring tape, flashlight, trash bags, pocket knives, scissors.

Helpful Tips

Managing Money: Make a list of all the necessary things you’ll need and all the things you want and make adjustments accordingly to your budget. Many stores provide coupons and have sales going on all year around, make wise choices when it comes to spending your money, assure yourself that it is something that will help you in the near future.

Being a Good Neighbor:

  • Introduce yourself to your neighbor assuring them you are a good person. Exchange phone numbers in case of an emergency.
  • Be considerate of them and don’t disturb them during quiet hours.
  • Keep responsibility for your animals, inside and outside of your apartment.
  • Let your neighbors know about any parties you are planning and give them your contact phone number in case the party becomes too loud.
  • Keep the appearance of your property clean
  • Respect your neighbor’s parking area
  • Keep furniture inside of home

Buying Furniture: It is strongly encouraged for students to visit OSUsed Surplus store, they have many second hand, taken care of, furniture that is very much affordable. When it comes to buying mattresses, it is highly advised that it is bought new, you can never be aware of where the mattress has been. Please visit this link for more information on OSUsed Surplus.

Safety: Use the buddy system when walking to the store or mail box, be aware and make quick eye contact with those around you. If you don’t feel comfortable around those around you, leave. When walking alone, take the routes that are safest, even though they might be longer. Avoid walking through empty parking lots or alleys. Be aware of the nearest police or fire station in your neighborhood and know what places are open late. Keep a tight grip on your belonging; if you feel like you’re being followed, cross the street. When at home, make sure all the doors and windows are locked and make sure all appliances are disconnected before going to bed. When away or asleep also make sure to close your blinds so outsiders won’t view your valuables. Before answering the door, look out the window discreetly to first make sure it isn’t a stranger.

Planning A Party: Consider your neighbors when planning a party; keep control of who is allowed at your party. If you lose control of the crowd, try ending the party yourself, or call police if things get too out of hand. If you have alcohol, make sure to keep it out of the hands of minors and try cooperating with police if they do show up to your party.

Transportation Options

Walking: OSU’s campus is located within walking distance from grocery stores, convenience stores, and clothing stores. The time it takes to get to the nearest store pretty much varies between 10 to 30 minutes.

Bicycle: Corvallis is a big bike community, it’s normal to ride your bike around town. Investing in a bike will save you a lot of money and make the ride quicker.

Transit: There is multiple bus transportation available to individuals. Visit the city website to see all of the bus routes available as well as their schedule.  Transit is free to all OSU students.

Driving: Of course, driving is also an option in Corvallis. It is always a good thing to have a car in case of an emergency.

Budget List

Your budget items will vary depending on the number of people living together and personal preference (rent, utilities, cable, etc. will be less expensive when divided among more than one person).

  • Rent: $600-$1200 Rent varies depending where in the area you will live, how many bedrooms and how many baths your unit contains, and it also involves a deposit that must be handed in before moving into the apartment.
  • Utilities: $100-$300 Sometimes garbage, garbage disposal, water, or electricity are already included in your rent, however, not all apartment complexes do this, so it could be that you will have to pay a separate bill.
  • Internet/Cable: $50-$100 Having to do some online classes or looking up information online for an essay will involve you having internet. There are several different internet plans available, in this case, we chose the cheapest one.
  • Groceries: $60-$150   Of course you need to eat! Depending on the amount of food the individual consumes are the number of times they will need to go to a grocery store. Let’s say you eat a significant amount of food, so you go grocery shopping once a month.
  • Phone: $30-$100 In the twenty first century, phones and mobile devices are used on the daily, and have become part of our everyday lives. It’s not a must to have an expensive smartphone, but a simple phone will work just as good.
  • Laundry: $10-$20 Not all apartments provide a washer and dryer, so it will be required to go out and pay to wash your laundry.
  • Gas: $15-$50 If you live a long distance from stores or the campus, it will possible be required to have a car available to you. It may also be a good idea to carpool with other going the same direction as you. I will definitely save you a lot of money.
  • Other Expenses: $50-$100 Also considered the things you want such as: clothing, shoes, Xbox, or even just going out to dinner.

We are now looking at a range of $915-$1930 as your monthly expenses. It is up to you to decide what is that you absolutely need and what you feel like you just want and possible wait a little while till you have the money to spend. Also, take into consideration that your school tuition was not included in this list.

Furniture Shopping Advice

What Not To Buy: It might be tempting to buy a mattress or a couch that looks new, however, it would be best to keep away from these types of furniture as they may be unsanitary. It is wise to invest in new furniture to prevent any sanitary problems.

Affordable prices: After looking at several different stores, compare prices of each of them and decide if you like the styles they offer and the prices to them. Then make the best choice for yourself.

Thrift Shops: Second hand stores often offer great prices on furniture that looks brands new. OSU has it’s own thrift shop store called OSU Surplus. This store contains nicely taken care of furniture provide from OSU such as: Office furniture, computers, and bikes. They are open for the public every first Saturday of the month from 8am-12pm and every Wednesday from 5:30-7:30pm. All the money from the store goes to recycling programs in Corvallis.

Important phone numbers

There are some phone numbers that should be kept in close reach in case of an emergency. The list of phones numbers should include:

  • Your landlord’s number
  • Fire station’s phone number
  • Police station’s phone number
  • Plumber’s phone number
  • Hospital phone number
  • most importantly, 911

Breaking a lease

In some cases, the tenant will decide to leave the apartment before the lease has expired. In this case not all money might be lost, certain situations permit the tenants to break the lease early. If there is no legitimate explanation to the termination of the lease, the tenant(s) may be sued and they will also need to pay the remaining rents for the full term of the lease. If the tenant decides to break the lease before it expires, he or she will need to write a formal letter to the landlord informing them their decision and when they plan on leaving the premises.

Leaving Your Old Apartment?

Here are a few steps to following when going through the process of moving out from your old apartment:

  1. Notify the landlord: It is required to give a 30-60 day notice to your landlord before leaving your apartment. Figure out the time required by your apartments, and notify your landlord; make sure this notice is in written copy
  2. Turn off your utilities: Call early to your utility provider and let them know the date you will be  officially moved out from your apartment. Doing this step will prevent you from forgetting to do it sooner and having to pay that extra month.
  3. Cleanliness: It is very important that you leave your unit as you found it when you first moved in. examine every room in your apartment and make sure it is clean. If you leave your unit clean, the landlord will offer you a positive reference to other complexes and possibly return your deposit. However, if the landlord finds the apartment a mess, they will either deduct your return deposit, or not return any money at all; they will use the deposit money to fix any damages you’ve done.
  4. Pack ahead of time: Packing a couple weeks before the move out day will save you a lot of stress and give you more time to do other tasks that may come up unexpectedly.
  5. Change your mailing address: It is important to change your mailing address so that important documents or bills are not sent to your previous address and you miss some payments.
  6. Furniture & Belongings: If you have any furniture or items that you no longer want or need, put them to some use. Donate these items to a charity or send them off to a thrift shop. Not only will you get rid of them, but you will also be helping others.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How do I begin my search for a place to live?
Answer: You can start your search by looking in newspapers, online, or visiting realtors. Remember that some landlords don’t list their available spaces, so going around surrounding areas and looking for rent signs gives you an upper hand on unpublished apartments/rooms. Also keep in mind that it might be cheaper to negotiate with the landlord rather than with a realtor.
Q. How do I find a roommate?
A. Finding a roommate can be tricky. You can start by asking your close friends what their plans will be for off campus housing. If their plans do not match your you might have to take into consideration all your other possibilities and if you don’t know them very well consider doing a background check.
Q. Where can I find short term housing
A. When looking for an apartment or a room you should look at the length of the lease. There are a variety of lengths from a year lease to a month-to-month lease. It all depends on the landlord.
Q. What should I do if I have problems with a roommate, landlord, or neighbor?
A. If you have problems with your roommate, landlord, or neighbor you can always start by trying to talk things out and coming to a compromise. If you have a contract with that person try and look back through it to see if there is a solution to your problem in there.
Q. How do I properly break my lease?
A. You can properly break your lease by looking at your contract and looking at the termination procedure. Some landlords require an advance notice of 30 to 60 days before you leave, so make sure to read your lease. There might be fees that need to be paid for early termination of your lease.
Q. What happens if I do not pay my rent on time?
A. If you don’t pay your rent on time there can be late penalty fees that will have to be paid. Make sure to read your lease for details on late penalty fees.
Q. Should I get renters’ Insurance?
A. Your landlord’s insurance policy will not cover your losses due to theft or damage.  Renters’ insurance also covers you if you’re sued by someone who claims to have been injured in your rental due to your carelessness. Rental insurance covers loss due to theft or damage caused by other people or natural disasters.  Some parents/guardians homeowners’ insurance will cover a students’ items in their rental, so check with your agent before purchasing a policy.
Q. What happens if I withdraw from school?
A. Living spaces off campus are not connected with UHDS so there is no requirement of student status unless stated otherwise by the landlord.
Q. How do I budget for an apartment?
A. Budgeting for an apartment starts by looking at the price range you can afford and taking into consideration getting a roommate. There are a variety of prices depending on location
Q. What kinds of questions should I ask when meeting with my landlord?
A. Questions to ask your landlord should include the following: What all is included in the price of the rent (cable/internet, utilities, etc.)? If utilities aren’t included, what was the average cost of utilities for the previous tenant? When is the rent due? How much is the security deposit? What to do if something breaks? Is there a pet policy? Is parking available? Is there a visitor/guest policy? What is the neighborhood like (is it more families, students, businesses)? Is there a fee if the rent is late? What are the terms of the lease? Is it furnished? If you have a question, ask it!  You want to know as much about your future home before you sign the lease and won’t be able to leave if you hate it.

The Gem

The Gem is owned and operated by College Housing Northwest: Corvallis.  The Gem does work in cooperation with University Housing and Dining Services, but are a separate company. Apartments in The Gem are all unique and fully furnished with complete kitchens and private baths. Amenities include all utilities provided plus high speed internet and cable TV. The Gem also offers a business center, fitness center, café, laundry facility, and community lounges including study lounges, a game room, and a social lounge with a 42” plasma TV. For application information, please visit them on the web at The Gem

Fraternity & Sorority Life

Oregon State University has a Greek community with 21 fraternities 19 sororities. There are 4 fraternities and 8 sororities without Greek houses at OSU. In total, more than 1,200 students within 42 fraternities and sororities (and growing) are in the Greek community.

Renting off-campus guides

Need extra assistance?

Contact our staff at UHDS by calling 541-737-4771, or emailing