Photo by Ramon Rovirosa
With lease-signing season in full swing, the question of next year’s housing is on the forefront of Isla Vista residents’ minds. Living arrangements are as diverse as the people seeking them, and some rules exist whether people seek a party house on Del Playa, a quiet single bedroom or a cheap apartment to split with friends. Fortunately, there are a variety of resources available to help with the complicated process of finding and signing a good lease.
Research and observation is essential. The Internet serves as the most accessible resource because it allows people to virtually look at homes in IV, find out who manages them, and read customer service reviews.
The University of California Santa Barbara Community Housing Office Success Guide provides tips for students newly familiar with the process. Such suggestions include making sure the agreement is in writing, with up to three days to change your mind, before securing a holding deposit in exchange for a unit.
The Isla Vista Tenants Union is a local resource that specializes in matters of housing with a staff of well-informed employees available for drop-in questions on weekdays.
“A lot of people don’t ask specific questions about their lease and they are not informed about security or personal safety issues that are important,” said IVTU Chair Kelly Yazdi. “Because signing a contract is a final decision, it’s nearly impossible to terminate a lease.”
While neglecting the terms of a lease can carry harsh consequences, reading through it carefully and asking questions can easily avoid those problems. Filling out paperwork and documentation is also another important aspect to complete correctly because failing to do so could end up costing extra money.
“A move-in video documenting the condition of the unit is crucial to make prior to moving in and also needs to be done once you move out,” said Yazdi. “It empowers you as a tenant to have tangible, or ‘written,’ documentation of the condition of your unit in case legal issues arise in terms of your security deposit.”
Essentially, it is necessary to document every single scuff, stain and scratch prior to move-in. Landlords can blame tenants for damage done by prior occupants and pocket the security deposit with a failure to do so.
Other students are another great source of advice for new residents, especially those with experience in house searching. While the paperwork and complexities are tedious, it is helpful to utilize those familiar with the process.
“I took care of all the documents and all the paperwork for our unit, and it wasn’t bad at all,” said second-year Alex Terenin, an IV tenant with four housemates. “The hardest part was coordinating with everyone throughout the process.”
The IVTU encourages students to be well-informed and educated about Isla Vista housing before making any executive decisions. The organization will be holding a forum on Feb. 11 and 12 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at IV Theater. The open discussion will range from topics about how to be a tenant, manage paperwork, and everything in between to make next year’s home the best one yet. Happy hunting.