Off-Campus Housing Issues & Resources
office of the dean of students
Life gets very busy during the school year, and living with a group of students can present a few challenges. You can minimize challenges by creating a roommate agreement that will help make life a little easier. An agreement can include as little or as much information as you want, anything from how doing dishes gets delegated to who pays what bills. Here is a sample roommate agreement that you can use, or you can build your own.
Paying the bills is an issue that students often struggle with in their apartments. Utilities must be turned on or transferred to someone in your house when you move in. Setting up a method of paying utilities ahead of move in is important too. Whether it's creating a bill paying account that everyone contributes to or dividing the bills when they come in, it pays to have a plan. It's also important to remember to turn your utilities off when you move out. If you don't, someone else may get "free" heat or electricity for a few months, and you will have to pay the bill.
Living off-campus can be a rewarding experience and a time of personal growth. While living in the off-campus community, we encourage you to think of yourself not only as a student at BC but also as a member of the Brighton, Allston, or Brookline community. Much as you are a member of a community in your hometown, there are similar expectations from your neighbors here.
As a student living off campus, it is important to understand Massachusetts laws concerning alcohol use. The legal drinking age is 21. Serving or providing alcohol to underage guests or allowing them to drink alcohol in your apartment is against the law. If you furnish alcohol to guests under 21, you are subject to criminal prosecution as well as University judicial action.
Further, if you are hosting events where alcohol is served, you may be held responsible for the actions of your partygoers even after they leave your home. Massachusetts law states that hosts can be held responsible for damage caused by those to whom they served alcohol. If your house is hosting a social event, here are some tips for hosting a safe social gathering:
- Make sure you have an appropriate amount of beverages. Having a reasonable amount of alcohol and alternatives available will help to keep your guests' intoxication levels lower and discourage uninvited guests who show up when there is an abundance of alcohol available.
- Only let invited guests into your home. Avoid allowing large groups of students into your apartment. If the police are called to the apartment, the guests may be sent away but you will be held accountable.
- Arrange for transportation for guests who require it, or have space available for people to stay over.
- A web resource with more information is www.socialhostliability.org.
As a tenant, you have a legal contract with your landlord or his or her agent. There are established rules for both of you based on state law. For example, your landlord must give notice before he or she or anyone else comes into your apartment. It is the landlord's responsibility to fix defects in the apartment, such as leaks. It is your responsibility to leave the apartment in a reasonable condition when you move out.
The most important thing to remember about your relationship is to communicate in writing and to keep copies, which creates a record that will help resolve disputes should they arise.
When you move into your apartment, it must minimally meet a standard of cleanliness and safety and must be inspected within 45 days of tenancy to ensure that it meets all city codes. Inspections are conducted by the Inspectional Services Department of the City of Boston. When you pick up your keys, ask the landlord if an inspection has been scheduled. Inspectional Services can be contacted at: 617-635-5322 or ISDhousing@cityofboston.gov.
When you move into any new apartment, it may be useful to document the condition of the apartment and keep the documentation for your records in case of a dispute when you move out. Photographs or video records are easy to create. Remember to also document the date that the images are taken, such as holding up the daily newspaper in one of your shots so that the date is readable.
It can also be helpful to plan a few things before moving in. The neighborhoods near BC are often very crowded when students are moving in and out of their apartments. Coordinate with your roommates and other students living in your building if possible and stagger the times you will be moving. This will help keep the streets less congested and help you avoid parking issues with local authorities.
Know Your Rights
"City of Boston Code Ordinance CBC 9-1.3 requires that property owners get newly rented apartments inspected prior to or within 45 days of rental and certified by the Housing Inspection Division. This ordinance allows the City to bring rental units into compliance with the State Sanitary Code in a manner that is beneficial to property owners and tenants. Failure to comply with this requirement is punishable by fines of $300 per month."
For more information, please visit: Housing Division - Rental Inspection Program
City of Boston:
- Mayor's 24-Hour Hotline: (617) 635-4500
- Office of Neighborhood Services: John Laadt - 617-635-4819
- City of Boston Student Webpage
- Inspectional Services Department: (617) 635-5300
- MBTA Information: (617) 222-3200
- Boston Police District 14 (non-emergency): (617) 343-4260
- Boston Police Department (emergency): 911