Important Terms and Considerations
Legally Binding Leases: A lease is a legally binding agreement between occupants, the property owners and co-signers/ guarantors. Make sure you understand the terms of the lease before signing anything. Keep in mind, tenants in most leases are “jointly and severally liable,” meaning that each tenant is both individually and collectively responsible for paying the rent and following the lease requirements.
Co-signer Requirements: Co-Signers are often parents (but not always) who can demonstrate an ability to financially back a tenant. Co-Signers/Guarantors are almost always required when landlords rent to students - both graduate and undergraduate - because as students they are typically unable to demonstrate an income to cover the cost of rent.
Financial Aid: Students are eligible to receive financial aid if they live off-campus. The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) remains the same for the academic year, and aid is adjusted according to the standard off-campus housing cost of attendance. The cost of attendance is based on a nine-month academic year, so the summer months are the student's responsibility. Living off-campus impacts the awarding of financial aid in that the total cost of attendance is lower for a student living off campus. As a result, many students and families experience a decrease in the amount of financial aid awarded in the year the student spends off-campus. Keep in mind, students are expected to live off-campus as they would in university housing, with a direct roommate. For more information, please review this PDF.
Upfront Costs: To secure an apartment, students and their co-signers may be expected to pay up to four payments before their move-in date. The four payments are (1) the first month's rent, (2) the last month's rent, (3) a security deposit, and (4) a broker fee - only if an agent is used.
Roommates: A huge factor that will impact your off-campus living experience is who you choose to live with. Carefully consider who you choose to be your roommates as you are usually financially and legally tied to them.
Reputation: Another factor to take into consideration during your housing search is the reputation of the apartment or house that you may be considering. If a house is historically noisy, neighbors and police will be quick to take notice. If the house has a reputation for a landlord who does not make repairs or return security deposits, this pattern is likely to continue. If you can, talk to the current tenants to get a feel for the apartment’s reputation and what they can expect when they live there.
Cars and Parking: Almost all off-campus students live within walking distance to the university or to the BC shuttle bus. If you do choose to bring a car you must carefully consider parking and it's associated costs. Most street parking in Boston is "Resident Parking Only," meaning that you need proof of residency and a valid automobile registration showing your car registered and principally garaged in your name from you Boston address to be eligible for a resident parking sticker. This strict parking policy is designed to give residents a better chance of finding an on-street parking space in their neighborhoods. A small number of street parking spaces are posted as "Visitor Parking" areas for the guests of neighborhoods residents. For more information on Boston's parking program, or to apply for a resident sticker, visit cityofboston.gov/parking. If you have a car but are not eligible for a resident parking permit, you can search for off-street parking options on the message boards on our housing website. For information regarding Boston College campus parking permits, visit the Office of Transportation and Parking.