Finding an Apartment

There are many reasons that people choose to live off campus. Whatever the reason, it is imperative to be precise and thorough in the steps that lead you to putting your signature at the bottom of a lease. Don't forget, evaluate and compare you off-campus housing options!

 

Start Looking

You have the best chance to get a good place if you know what you need and plan how to get it. Begin your search by answering the following questions:

·         When will you need housing? Pick an exact date. Give yourself enough time to find a place.

·         What kind of housing do you need, an apartment/house? How much space do you need? What furniture or appliances will you need?

·         How much can you afford to pay for rent, utilities, and other necessities?

·         Where do you want to live, an area of town or a specific neighborhood?

·         The key to success at finding and keeping good housing is NOT TO WAIT until the last minute to get help.


On November 8, 2000, the Council of the City of Bethlehem passed Article 1739 titled Regulated Rental Unit Occupancy Ordinance, which requires an inspection of all rental units defined as  “a dwelling unit occupied by three or more, but not more than five, unrelated persons under a rental agreement.”  Contact the City of Bethlehem, Bureau of Inspections at 610-865-7091 and make sure that the property that you are interested in is a Regulated Rental before signing a lease. If the rental property lies outside Bethlehem, you should verfiy that the rental meets code and all housing requirements for the respective housing bureau are met.


Choose your housemates 

Friends are usually a good choice, but not always the best choice. Keep in mind that you will be entering into a binding agreement with these people and responsibility on everyone’s part is necessary.

 

If you are living with people who are not related to you, pay careful attention to zoning codes. In the City of Bethlehem, no more than five unrelated persons may reside together.

If there are more than five individuals, your landlord is in violation of Bethlehem zoning code and one resident may be forced to leave.

Helpful Tip: Tenants should expect to set aside 1/4 of each paycheck for rent!


Consider Your Expectations

Whether living alone or with others, carefully consider your expectations. What type of place would you like to live in?

 

Logistics

·         Apartment or house

·         Character of neighborhood

·         Furnished or unfurnished

·         Secure parking that is well lit at night

·         Carpeting

·         Access to washer/dryer

·         Policy regarding pets

·         Trash removal

·         Snow and ice removal

·         Policy regarding decorations

·         Off street parking

 

Management

·         Reputation of landlord

·         What current tenants say

·         Condition of unit

·         Is the property licensed and inspected? The  property should be licensed/inspected annually.

 

Finances

·         Security deposit

·         Rent

·         Additional costs. Call companies listed on pages 19-24 to get cost estimates based on the previous year’s usage.

·         Bethlehem City parking permit (zoned areas)

 

Potential Locations

The following are helpful resources when looking for potential locations:

·         Places4Students

·         Classified section of local newspapers

·         University Center bulletin board

·         Realtors

 

What to Look for in a Rental Unit

The landlord is required to maintain a certain level of quality housing. In order to get a sense of how the landlord responds to the needs of the tenants, you may want to talk with tenants or neighbors and ask:

·         What they have liked and not liked? Why?

·         What types of problems have occurred, if any?

·         Does the landlord provide service in a timely manner?

·         Does the landlord live in the area? If not, was a name of a manager in the area provided?

·         How are maintenance repairs done? Are maintenance concerns addressed in a timely manner?

 

Helpful Tip: When looking for rental units, ask yourself 1) do I feel
comfortable and safe in this neighborhood? 2) Is my landlord a respectable businessperson?


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Contact Us

Mailing Address:
63 University Dr.
Rathbone Hall
Bethlehem, PA 18015

E-mail Address
inrsd@lehigh.edu

Phone Number:
(610) 758-3500

Fax Number:
(610) 758-3568

Office Hours:
8:15 a.m. - 4:45 p.m.
Monday - Friday