Ease students off campus

  For many students at UVM the beginning of junior year means one thing: Living off campus.                   Searching for off-campus housing can be stressful for many students because it’s often their first time living on their own away from college dorms or home. The UVM Office of Student and Community Relations offers Off-Campus Living Workshops for students beginning to look for off-campus living arrangements in Burlington and the surrounding areas.                   This year, there are three off-campus living workshops, Coordinator of Off-Campus Services Alicia Taylor said. “We offer these workshops for students so that they have resources for when they make the move off campus,” Taylor said. “Through attending these workshops, students learn everything from what a lease means to their rights as a tenant.”                   The first two workshops took place on Nov. 2 and Nov. 10. The final workshop will be on Nov. 16 in the Livak Ballroom at the Davis Center.                   During the workshop a group of panelists come and talk with the students, Taylor said.  The panelists include a representative from VT Tenants Inc., a Fair Housing representative, an officer from the Burlington Police Department, a UVM Police Officer, City Council members, and landlords.                   “The panelists act as a student safety net,” Taylor said. “By having them come, it lets students know that they’re not alone off campus.”                   Many students said they attended the off-campus living workshops to gain knowledge on where to begin their search for alternative housing.                    “I wanted to get information on how to start looking for a place,” sophomore Kelsey Cass said.  “I’m planning on moving off campus next year, but I wanted to attend the workshop because I’m kind of lost and just wanted information.”                   Confusion about where to begin the process of looking for a place to live seems to be common among some students.                   “I wanted to know where to start,” sophomore Michael Pendleton said.  “Nobody teaches you how to [look for off-campus housing], so it’s something you have to do yourself.  It’s not something you learn at home.”                   Though some students said they are lacking information about how to begin the housing search, others said they have already begun looking for apartments.                   “I’ve started looking at apartments and it’s a lot to think about, but also a lot of fun,” sophomore Taylor Faccio said.  “I wanted to attend the off-campus living workshop to understand more of the logistics of what to look for and how to go about doing it.”                   One important aspect of the Off-Campus Living Workshops is that every student that attends the workshop receives a UVM Preferred Renters Card, Taylor said.                   “About 400 students go through these workshops a year,” Taylor said. “The UVM Preferred Renters Card shows property owners that students completed the workshop, and landlords know that when the card is shown that students took the time to through a workshop about living off-campus.”                   Some students said they feel that landlords would rent to students even without the Preferred Renters Card.                   “I already went to see an off-campus house and the landlord seemed okay potentially renting to me without the card,” sophomore Kelly Mack said.  “It might be beneficial to have one, but I’m more concerned about everyone snatching up places to live.”                   Although some students may doubt the effectiveness of having a Preferred Renters Card, others said they have heard it’s beneficial when applying for apartments or houses off campus.                   “I’ve heard that having [a UVM Preferred Renters Card] helps,” junior Andrew Spaulding said.  “I don’t think it hurts to have one, and having one won’t work against me.”                   The UVM Preferred Renters Card may help students prove they are responsible tenants to some landlords and managers, but others said they rely on their own background and credit checks to gain knowledge about potential renters.                   “We personally do our own thorough background and credit checks,” Tammy Ashton manager of The Woolen Mill Apartments, said.  “There are students living here, and we wouldn’t be more favorable to someone that had completed the workshop over someone who hadn’t.”                   Relying on their own methods is something that other landlords said they do as well.                   “I give priority based on when applications for apartments come in, not because someone has the Preferred Renters Card,” landlord Carter Kaanta said.  “The only reason I would ever disqualify someone from getting an apartment would be if they didn’t pass a background check or had trouble previously when renting an apartment.”