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Off-Campus Living Guide

Start Here!

Before you search, ask yourself this...

As with any major decision, there is a lot to consider when choosing off-campus housing. Before you sign the lease and pay your security deposit, these are some things to think about: How much can you pay for rent & utilities?

  • Do you want to live by yourself or with roommates?
  • How close to campus do you want to live?
  • How will you get around? Bus, car, bike or foot?
  • Do you need a furnished place?
  • Do you need access to a kitchen?
  • Do you need a place for pets?
  • What type of place do you want?
  • Room in private home
  • Apartment
  • Room in group home
  • Townhouse
  • Special situation?
  • What amenities, like air conditioning or a dishwasher, are important to you?

Remember, you can always call the rental agency or landlord and ask for more information than what's provided in the listing. For example, many places say they don't allow pets, but will reconsider upon meeting the animal and you, the owner.


Increase your odds

Make an appointment & arrive on time: You wouldn't want people showing up at your house unannounced and neither do landlords, so make an appointment and keep it. No one wants to wait around for prospective tenants.

Be presentable: Proper attire may improve your chances when there are several interested parties.

Follow up: Checking back reminds landlords that you are still interested, even when they've already taken your contact information.

Money talks: Be prepared to put money down to hold a place you like the day you find it. Make sure you get a deposit receipt, and note whether it is refundable if you do not end up renting the place, or if it can be applied toward future rent.

Start early: Give yourself several weeks to find housing. If you are looking for a place to rent in the fall, start your search toward the end of the spring semester or in early summer, as many landlords have vacancies during the summer.


What landlords want to see from applicants

Your prospective landlord may be an individual or a private company. Either way, here are some things they may request from you:

  • An application (usually available at the property or the manager's office)
  • Credit check
  • Income (typically equal to 2.5-3x the monthly rent in gross monthly income)
  • Rental history/references (current on-campus Cal Poly Humboldt residents who want to use Humboldt as a housing reference must complete a Rental Release found under Forms in the myHousing portal)
  • Co-signer (if you do not meet some or all of the rental requirements that the landlord is asking for)
  • Application or broker fee


Your rights as a renter

The California Supreme Court has ruled that you have the right to a habitable dwelling. This means your landlord has a legal obligation to repair items that affect the home's livability, including: Fixing broken stoves, pipes, unsafe stairwells and other hazards in a reasonable amount of time, which is usually defined as days. You also have the right to privacy. Your landlord cannot enter the rental property without 24 hours notice or your consent. Please see some of the links below to review your rights as a tenant.

State and Federal Resources
Community Resources

There are many resources that can assist you in our local community. See the links below for more information.


About credit checks...

Here are some links to help you better understand your credit score: | Equifax | Experian | Transunion | California Office of Privacy Protection

When renting a house or apartment the landlord may perform a credit check before renting to you. Landlords are looking to see whether you have a history of on-time payment, and that you don't have excessive debt that may limit your ability to pay rent.

You can keep track of your credit score by checking with the three main credit companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You are entitled to a free credit report every 12 months. It is your responsibility to maintain your credit and know where you stand.


Moving-in checklist

In addition to finding a U-Haul van or convincing your friends with pick-up trucks to help you move, there are plenty of details you'll need to attend to when moving in to a new place. Here's a quick guide to help you with that process:

Inspect the premises:
Before you move in, arrange a time during the day to inspect your new rental. Conduct an inventory check during the walk through, mark the conditions of all the rooms, including the floors, walls, windows, light fixtures, etc.
Making note of problem areas now will save you the headache of arguing over who will pay for these damages when you move out. Also, it's a good idea to conduct a second walk through a week or two after you've moved in -- there are some things that can only be discovered after living in the rental.

Document all defects:
Beyond completing your own inventory, you should also document any damages you do find. We recommend you take photos of damages, and use a camera that automatically imprints the date on each photo.

Get all agreements in writing:
When repairs are needed have your landlord sign a work order, or some other document, that clearly outlines the work to be done and the time by which it should be completed. Keep all correspondence with your landlord, whether it is written or emailed.

Set up your utilities:
Once you have signed the rental agreement you'll need to know which utilities you, the tenant, are responsible for. Different landlords include different utilities in the rent, so be sure to ask. Here is a list of common service providers. For more specific information, contact the company directly.

Mail delivery:
If your last address was on-campus, you just need to update your address in your myHumboldt account, and your mail will be forwarded for up to a year. The one exception, is if you lived in Campus Apartments, then you need to both update your address in your myHumboldt account and with the United States Postal Service (USPS).  If your last address was off-campus, you will need to complete a change-of-address and mail forwarding with the United States Postal Service (USPS). There is a $1 charge for mail forwarding, and it is valid for 6 months from the time you move. 

Other bills & subscriptions:
Contact any other bills you may have (credit cards, car loans, etc.) and notify them of your change of address. Also contact any magazines or other subscriptions you may have -- again, mail forwarding is only valid for 6 months with USPS.


Rental Insurance

When moving off-campus, bicycles, electronics and other valuables, can often be targets for criminals. Remember, you are responsible for replacing stolen or damaged property, not your landlord. Insurance is a good idea to protect your possessions against theft or loss related to a natural disaster. 

There are many options for rental insurance, and we encourage students to go with whatever provider they see fit. GradGuard is a campus partner that works with many university students including students at Cal Poly Humboldt.



Being a good neighbor

Letting the lawn grow knee high, double and triple-parking cars, never hauling away the trash, even after six months -- you wouldn't want your neighbors turning your block into a nightmare, would you? That's why it's so important to be a good neighbor. Beyond getting to know your neighbors respecting that relationship is critical to being a member of society. And if that's not incentive enough, just remember that you'll need a glowing housing reference the next time you move to a new rental...

Get to know your neighbors: Say hello! Getting to know the people you live near is a great way to get yourself oriented to your new neighborhood. With open communication between you and your neighbors, both sides will feel more comfortable approaching one another for help or when issues arise.

Parties & Noise: As with many college towns, Arcata and Eureka are filled with mixed neighborhoods with different ideas of what "bedtime" is. If you are throwing a party, try to keep noise levels to a minimum; have smokers congregate in the back yard, not on the street; and, if possible, let your neighbors know about parties a few days in advance. You can let them know the approximate hours of the party, how much noise to expect and to call you, instead of the police, if there is a problem. Also, if you live in an incorporated part of the city, you will be subject to ordinances concerning noise maximums and time limits.

Maintaining the property: Odds are, your landlord will let you know what chores you are responsible for. Some landlords provide lawn service, while others require that you get out the lawn mower before the front yard becomes a jungle. For your own (and your neighbors) peace of mind, keeping a tidy house is just a good idea.

Trash & recycling removal: Your house is not a dump -- so don't treat it like one. Many landlords provide trash service to avoid just this sort of thing. If you aren't able to make regular trips to the dump or local recycling centers, we suggest paying for garbage service. The convenience of weekly pick-ups will greatly outweigh the cost.

949 W Hawthorne St.
Eureka, CA 95501
(707) 442-5711

Parking: If you are sharing a home with two or more roommates, parking issues may arise. Following city ordinances for parking is the first step to being a courteous neighbor, but communication with your fellow residents is the best idea. Avoid things like double parking, blocking sidewalks or (the ultimate kiss of death) abandoning broken vehicles on public streets.

Certain districts of Arcata require parking permits. Inquire with the City Hall for more information.

City of Arcata
736 F St.
Arcata, CA 95521
(707) 822-5951


Meal Plans

(For students living off-campus)

You can live off-campus and still take advantage of a meal plan. Students living off-campus can purchase any of the Commuter Plans. Please visit the Dining Meal Plans for more information. Plenty of healthy options, no shopping or dish washing required.

Dining Options


Save on energy bills

Everybody from the State of California to PG&E and Grandma's Energy Blog has a list of energy saving tips. We've gone an compiled some of the best ideas, like these from the Department of Energy:

  • Set your thermostat comfortably low in the winter and comfortably high in the summer.
  • Use compact fluorescent light bulbs.
  • Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher's drying cycle.
  • Turn off your computer and monitor when not in use.
  • Plug home electronics into power strips; turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use.
  • Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120¬∞F.
  • Take short showers instead of baths.
  • Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.
  • Wash your clothes using cold water whenever possible.
  • Drive sensibly. Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gasoline.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR¬Æ label on home appliances and products. ENERGY STAR products meet strict efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • Use fans, instead of air conditioners, to cool your house in the summer. Leave your window shades drawn to reduce heat coming in from outside. Likewise, in the winter, leave your window shades open during the day and close them at night.

For more tips:


Sustainable Transportation

Choosing smart transportation alternatives for your commute will save you money, help you avoid parking frustrations, and reduce carbon emissions. With resources like Jack Pass, Zipcar, bikeshare and more, it's easy to go completely car free!

  • Ride the Bus for Free during the Fall and Spring semesters. All Humboldt students have unlimited free ride access on the Redwood Transit System (RTS) buses using their Cal Poly Humboldt student ID card
  • Carpool with Cal Poly Humboldt's Ride Match
  • Use the Virtual Ride Board to give/receive rides out of the area
  • Get free help with bike maintenance and repairs at the Bicycle Learning Center
  • No Bike? No Problem. Rent a Bike with Discounted Bike Share
  • Get wheels when you want them with guaranteed parking with ZipCar Car Share
  • Discounted transport to get home for breaks and holidays
  • Use the Express Bus to get from Eureka to Ukiah
  • Got an EV? Here’s where you can charge up


Moving-out check list

Just as with moving in to a new place, the process of moving out is a detailed one. Use this checklist to guide you through the steps.

Check your rental agreement:
Look for any information regarding moving out, whether it's the date your agreement expires or the specific procedures for doing so.

Notify landlord in writing:
You should let your landlord know of your intent to vacate, in writing, at least 30 days in advance of the termination date. Even if your lease is set to expire, you are still required to submit notice 30 days in advance.

Arrange to have landlord inspect apartment:
Arrange for your landlord's inspection to be completed in your presence, using the same checklist you completed when you moved in. Be sure to have all rooms thoroughly cleaned; it is also common to have your carpets professionally cleaned prior to the move out date.

Notify utilities:
Let your utility providers know of your pending move at least one week in advance. Be sure to give them a forwarding address where final bills can be sent.

Remove all trash & personal possessions:
You should be completely moved out by the time the landlord is ready for an inspection, including removing all items you plan on getting rid of. Clean the floors, closets, fixtures and appliances. Many landlords provide guides for their cleaning specifications.

Return all keys to landlord:
Usually, landlords will ask for keys to be surrendered during their inspection.

Leave a forwarding address:
Complete a change-of-address and mail-forwarding form so your landlord can send you the remaining deposit.


Getting your security deposit back

Moving in and out costs a lot of money, that's why it's so nice to get the full amount of your security deposit back. Being aware of all the stipulations in your rental agreement is the first step to getting your money back.

Other tips include:

  • Repair damages -- if it gets fixed quickly, it probably won't be a problem when you're moving out. If you leave repairs for your landlord, he or she will use your deposit to pay for it.
  • Properly store any fixtures or furnishings you remove -- if you swap out the blinds for curtains, you'll need to put the blinds back up in the same condition they were in when you took them down.
  • Ask for it! -- Many landlords won't make the effort to return the money until you say something. Be sure to leave a forwarding address where your check can be sent. And if all of the above fails...
  • Take Action -- If you don't receive your deposit, or an itemized list of damages, it's time to take action. Write a certified letter asking for your deposit. If that doesn't work, look into small claims court. These inexpensive trials do not require a lawyer and are completed relatively quickly. Most of the time, the landlord won't want the hassle of a court appearance and will give you back the deposit to avoid any further legal action.

    Cal Poly Humboldt does not inspect or endorse the listed properties or make any warranties regarding their condition, nor does Humboldt secure off-campus housing for students. Off-Campus Housing accepts listings with the expectation and understanding that the landlord or agent is in compliance with the Fair Housing Act.