Non-USC Housing Information
Besides USC campus housing, there are a number of privately owned apartments and homestay opportunities within walking or driving distance of the university. Please note that the USC Language Academy does not arrange or endorse any private housing or homestay accommodations. However, this information is provided for your convenience. You will need to contact the homestay company or owner of the apartment yourself in order to reserve housing. In addition, you should read the information below on renting or leasing before you sign an agreement. You may want to use one of the following listings of available housing:
Office of International Services Housing Weekly
The Language Academy at USC does not arrange for homestay or endorse any homestasy companies, as we cannot guarantee the safety or quality of such accommodations. We strongly urge students to live in on-campus housing to have a full American and college cultural experience and be immersed in the English language.
Apartment Web Sites:
Property management companies
Listed below are the telephone numbers of some property management companies and apartment complexes around campus. This listing is not exclusive, nor is it all-encompassing. Furthermore, it is not an endorsement of the facilities and practices of the listed entities. It is simply a list of some companies near USC where vacancies may exist.
You can take your apartment-search online if you are so inclined. There are several Web sites that may prove useful. Again, this is not an endorsement of the facilities and practices of the listed entities.
What to Know When Renting an Apartment
If you choose to live in a private apartment, you will need to find a suitable apartment and sign a lease. Please read the following information carefully before signing an agreement.
Leasing an Apartment
A lease is a legally binding agreement between you and your landlord for a specific period of time. You are responsible to pay the rent (monthly fee) of the apartment the entire length of the lease, usually six months to a year. The rent will remain the same for the leasing period. Once the lease is over, the rent can be raised at any time. If you wish to leave the apartment before the end of the lease, you will have to find another person to sublease your apartment or pay the rest of the rent until the end of the lease. Therefore, it is very important that you read the lease carefully before you make your decision. The minimum information you should have on a lease should include monthly rate, required deposit, length of occupancy, apartment rules and termination requirements.
Tips for Apartment Seekers
- Find an apartment and complete an application: Make an appointment with the manager and inspect the unit in the daytime. Look around at several locations before you make a decision. Once you have found an apartment for a good price, you will need to fill-out an application.
- Walk-Through: If your application is approved, you will need to do a walk-through (a physical inspection of the apartment). Make a list of the existing damages (be detailed). Both the landlord and tenant should sign the list. Both parties should keep a copy.
- Inspect: Make sure that all faucets work and that you can get hot and cold water. Check to make sure there are no leaks in the plumbing. If there are obvious signs of problems, such as water under the sink, ask the landlord about it. Make sure you get the manager's reply in writing with a time estimate for repair. Check to see if all appliances and lights are working. Look at all wiring and make sure that wires are not exposed. Inspect the refrigerator, stove, oven and dishwasher to see that they work and are clean. Ask the landlord if these appliances are the same ones you will have if you rent the apartment (sometimes they belong to the previous tenant). Check the doors and windows to make sure they are secure and safe. Do the doors have strong locks? Do the windows have locks and screens? Try opening and closing doors and windows to ensure that they work properly.
- Parking: Is there a place for you to park? If parking is offered, how many spaces do you get for each apartment? Is the parking area well lit and secure? Is there an extra cost for a parking space?
- Ask! The next thing you can do to get a better idea about the rental is to ask both the landlord and neighbors. Ask other tenants if they are quick and responsive in getting repairs done. It is a good sign if other tenants like the landlord.
Negotiating and Signing a Lease
The lease is a legally binding rental agreement. DO NOT sign more than one lease to reserve an apartment. Before you sign a lease, be sure that you want the apartment. Read the lease carefully and do not be afraid to ask the landlord to add things to the lease such as repairs or appliances. If there is something stated on the lease that you do not agree with, talk with the landlord about crossing it out. If you are leasing a furnished apartment, be sure you know what furniture is included in the lease. Some apartments do not include a refrigerator, so you may have to pay extra to rent one. The lease is usually for a one-year period, but this may be negotiable. You are required by law to pay rent for the entire lease period--even if you move out earlier.
Most landlords will require you to pay a security deposit. It is usually the equivalent of one month's rent. Landlords are not allowed to ask for the first month of rent, a security deposit and the last month of rent (called first, last and deposit). By law they may only require either the first and last month's rent, or first month's rent and a security deposit. The security deposit is the landlord's insurance against damage or tenants leaving without paying their rent. The landlord may subtract the cost of any damage or cleaning incurred after you leave the apartment. However, the landlord should not charge you for normal wear and tear on the apartment or excessive cleaning charges if you have cleaned the apartment. You are legally entitled to receive your security deposit back at the end of your lease (minus any charges for excessive damage or cleaning costs).
Make sure that all agreements with your landlord are in writing. If you make any agreements with your landlord or are requesting repairs, put it in writing. Verbal agreements are usually worth nothing. If a landlord is reluctant to put something in writing, you may choose not to rent from him/her.
More tips for apartmnent 'hunters' are availble on the website of the Office of International Services.
If you have further questions about USC housing please contact the Housing Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org