Off-Campus Housing Guide for International Students & Scholars

Some students and scholars arrange their housing before they arrive on campus, but it is suggested to actually check out the apartments/houses and walk around the area before signing your leases. In this case, you can make short-term housing arrangements, and look for rental options once you are in Albany.

Short-term Housing Arrangement Resources

  • Ask your friends or acquaintances. If you have friends or acquaintances live in the nearby area, you might consider asking if you could stay with them for a short time while you look for rental options.
  • UAlbany International Student Facebook Page where temporary and permanent housing options are often posted.
  • Hotel Options: Many hotels near UAlbany campus offer UAlbany students discounted rates with UAlbany Admission letter or SUNY Card.
Note: Make sure you call the hotel directly to make your reservation and mention that you are a UAlbany student. Reservations made online might not get you the lowest discounted rates.

Long-term Housing Resources

Things to Keep in Mind

  • If you don’t have a car, choose a neighborhood that is close to bus lines or within walking distance. (Guide for how to apply for a U.S. Driver’s License)
  • Consider first where your classes are located. You might want to choose a neighborhood not too far from the campus where you will be mostly taking classes.
    • Uptown Campus includes most academic departments.
    • Downtown Campus includes The Schools of Criminal Justice and Social Welfare, the College of Computing and Information Science, and Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy.
    • East Campus includes The School of Public Health.
  • The overwhelming majority of our off-campus students live within the Pine Hills Neighborhood of Downtown Albany. This neighborhood is centrally located next to the downtown campus and is heavily populated with landlords who rent to students. The area is also serviced by several CDTA bus lines that run directly to and from the UAlbany campus. Pine Hills Map
  • Leases are generally for one year. It can be convenient if you decide to go home for the summer yet still want someplace to put your belongings. However you might not want to pay for the rent for the whole year if you are not staying for the summer. In this case, you might think about subletting your place while you are away.
    Note: not all landlords allow their tenants to sublet their apartments/houses, so take this into account when signing contacts.
  • Security Deposits. Most rentals require a deposit-usually the equivalent of one month’s rent. At the end of your lease you will get this deposit back, less any fees for damages.
    Note: landlord must return the refundable part of the deposit within two weeks of the time you vacate an apartment. Deductions from the deposit must be itemized in writing.
  • Rent. The average rent in the City of Albany for a 1 bedroom apartment (per month) is $972 without utilities, the average rent for a 2 bedroom apartment in the City of Albany (per month) is $1,129 without utilities. However, most students will rent a multi-unit house (3 bedrooms downstairs, 3 bedrooms upstairs and split the rent evenly. In this scenario many of our students will pay rent ranging from $400 (per month) – $600 (per month). Utilities such as Cable TV, Internet, Electric, Heat and Hot water typically cost extra and will be split evenly amongst the inhabitants.
  • Background checks. Some rental applications might require a background check, which requires a social security number. If you do not have a social security number, ask your landlord/leasing company to see what other options you have.
  • Renters’ Insurance. The landlord’s property insurance policy usually does not cover your personal possessions inside your apartment, so you might need to consider purchasing renters’ insurance to cover your personal belongings. The renters insurance is usually inexpensive, ranging from $10-$20 per month. Getting a quote online from different insurance companies is a fairly quick process to choose a renters’ insurance.
  • Issues/Concerns. Notify your landlord or leasing office in writing of any existing problem or damages when you move in. Upon moving in always take pictures of the condition of the apartment/ house. Documenting the condition of the residence upon move in is always a good idea in case the landlord attempts to withhold your security deposit due to previous damage.
  • Repairs. If damage to the property occurs during the rental period it is the landlord’s responsibility to fix/ repair the damage. If upon requesting the repair the damage goes unrepaired you can contact the Division of Building & Regulatory Compliance at 518-434-5165 and they can ensure that the landlord makes the necessary repairs in a prompt manner.
  • Roommates/housemates. Be mindful when selecting your roommates/housemates. Choose roommates who will fulfill their share of obligations for the rent. Discuss and establish a mutual agreement about things like, quiet hours, guest policy, grocery share/or not, cleaning responsibilities, etc.
  • Plan ahead and start early. Some apartments fill up quickly when the school start date is approaching, you might want to look for rentals early.
  • Talk to other students who are currently living off campus. You may be not familiar with the local area, so talk to American peers who might know the area better to find out their neighborhoods and their experiences.
  • Meal plans for Commuters You might want to choose a meal plan that suits well with your on-campus dining needs.

What to Ask

You might want to ask about the details of following items to your landlord/leasing office before signing a lease:

  • Residential Occupancy Permit (ROP): Every property in the City of Albany that is being rented must have a valid ROP. An ROP certifies that the property has been inspected and is up to code. If the landlord is unaware when the last time the property was inspected you can call the Division of Building & Regulatory Compliance at 518-434-5165 to check to see if the apartment has a valid ROP. If the apartment does not have a valid Residential Occupancy Permit we would strongly suggest not renting from this landlord.
  • Utilities. Ask if the utilities are included in the rental price. If not, ask your landlords or other tenants in the building about the average monthly cost of utilities. Utilities include water, electricity, internet/Wi-Fi, TV cable and heating, etc. The cost of utilities can range from $100 p/month to $400 p/month depending on what is included in the lease and how many people are living in the house/ apartment. Below are some links for utility companies in the area:
  • Major Appliances. Most apartments include a stove and oven and a refrigerator, but always confirm this with your landlord/leasing office. Ask if a microwave is provided.
  • Furnished/unfurnished. Most off-campus housing is rented without furniture, but furnished housing is also available.
  • Parking. If you plan to share the apartment/house with other people, ask about the number of parking spaces available. Often times parking in Albany is “on the street” which means that you are not guaranteed parking in front of your apartment. Therefore, apartments that offer “lot” parking will sometimes be more expensive or charge an extra parking fee.
  • Laundry. If a washing machine and dryer are not included in the unit, ask landlord about the nearby laundromat options.
  • Pets. If you plan to have a pet, check the policy with your landlord/leasing company in advance. Note: Tenants are allowed to have service animals regardless of a no-pet clause in their lease. Also, tenants with a chronic mental illness are permit­ted to have emotional assistance animals.

Other Tips

  • Plan ahead and start early. Some apartments fill up quickly when the school start date is approaching, you might want to look for rentals early.
  • View the apartment in person prior to signing the lease. When at all possible try to view the apartment before you sign the lease. You’re going to be living there for the next 10-12 months so you want to be 100% sure that this is the right place for you. Remember, a lease is a binding contract and once you sign it can be very hard to get out of. If you can’t view the apartment in person try to ask someone you know or trust to view the apartment on your behalf and take a video so you can see the entire property (not just what’s viewable in pictures on-line). If you do not know anyone in the area that can do this for you try to ask the landlord for as many updated pictures as possible regarding the property so you can make an informed decision on if you want to live there.
  • Talk to other students who are currently living off campus. You may be not familiar with the local area, so talk to American peers who might know the area better to find out their neighborhoods and their experiences.
  • Figure out the Mass Transit. Take the time to ride the bus to campus from the bus stop to figure out the exact time you need to get to the campus.
  • Talk to other tenants in the building to find out more information about the neighborhood.

Other Resources for Living Off-Campus

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