|Resources for more information:
* Roommates and housing assistance: www.sc.colostate.edu/ocss_ral or visit Off-Campus Student Services at the InfoToo desk in the Lory Student Center.
* Leasing and legal advice: www.sls.colostate.edu or visit Student Legal Services in room 182 of the Lory Student Center.
* City ordinances: www.fcgov.com/neighborhoodresources/clc/
The cost of caulking the bathtub you forgot to tell your landlord was cracked: $2.99. The cost of the ticket for weeds that grew above the 6-inch limit: $35. The fine for the party that got a little too loud: $1,000. Having the knowledge to avoid spending this money when you move off campus for the first time: priceless.
Before embarking out into the world beyond residence halls, there are things every prospective tenant should know.
Jacquelyn Myers considers herself lucky, after she found her roommate in an advertisement in the Collegian. Myers, a junior apparel design major, transferred to CSU a year ago and has had the same roommate since then.
"It seemed like we were going to get along great so I just moved in with her," Myers said.
Off-Campus Student Services also offers assistance with helping students find roommates. Roommate round-ups are offered to provide meet-and-greet opportunities, said Erin Collins, a senior technical journalism major who works for OCSS.
Kevin Daley, director of Student Legal Services, emphasized the importance of students picking roommates wisely, especially if they will be entering a joint lease.
"They have to know who they're moving in with and what kind of roommate that person will be," Daley said.
He recommended students sign a roommate agreement so there is no ambiguity over household expectations.
"It's best to clear the air and get it straight," Daley said.
Scouting out a place
For junior history major Ben Condon, deciding to live in a house instead of an apartment was easy.
"It's nice to have a lot of space," Condon said.
Jen Johnson, CSU and Fort Collins community liaison, said lots of students prefer to live in houses because of the additional space and feeling of freedom. However, she said students need to remember the additional work required to maintain a house and yard.
"There potentially could be more responsibility," Johnson said.
Johnson said that apartment complexes could come with some benefits.
"There can be some really nice amenities which I think can really be an advantage," Johnson said.
Myers said she prefers living in an apartment because she does not have to worry about its maintenance.
"It just takes some of the responsibility off your shoulders," Myers said.
Location and neighborhood are two other factors that can play a role in choosing a future residence. Johnson suggests meeting neighbors in advance and asking them about their expectations within the neighborhood.
"It's up to (the students) to fit in with the character of the neighborhood," Johnson said.
So, where can you find available property?
OCSS will be hosting a housing fair on Mar. 23. Collins said the office has already contacted almost 700 vendors. Also, property-management groups offer a variety of residences, from studios to homes.
Autumn Dibenedetto, a leasing agent from Armadillo Property Management, said her offices finds out which of its properties will be up for rent around May or June.
Once a residence has been found, Daley recommends students inspect the property very carefully. He also said it may be helpful to speak with tenants about the property and their relationship with the landlord.
Along with a cell phone contract, signing a lease is one of the first major contracts most students enter, Daley said.
"Everyone who intends to sign the lease needs to read it completely and understand it," Daley said.
Daley recommends students have their leases reviewed before they sign it.
"I'd say about 40 percent of the clients we see come in for housing-related matters and a large portion of those come in to have their leases reviewed," Daley said.
SLS also posts roughly 75 attorney-reviewed leases online that students can use for comparison.
Daley said SLS provides information about specific clauses that can make a lease unfair.
"It's important to go through the lease and look for certain clauses to tip off that it's one-sided," Daley said.
Breaking the law
Condon said he received a noise violation for a party at his house.
"Now I'm on a very short leash in Fort Collins," Condon said.
Condon said he knew about the noise ordinance, but many other students may not be aware of the ordinances enforced in their neighborhoods.
Johnson said leaving sofas or furniture on porches, letting weeds grow too high or neglecting to remove snow 24 hours after it has stopped snowing are common city ordinance violations. Each of these violations can be accompanied with a fine.