Frequently Asked Questions

Living off Campus Questions

How do I know what the “safe” areas are if I want to live off campus?
The University cannot recommend or endorse any living arrangements for students off campus. The best way to learn about a neighborhood is to drive around the area at different times of day before you sign a lease. It is also a good idea to talk with your parents about your intended apartment or living arrangements and let them weigh in on your decision. Getting a ‘gut feeling” for the neighborhood is a good way to get started in making a decision, but you should take this a step further. The city of Albany has a crime mapping system on its website. You can type in the neighborhood you are thinking about and look at the number and type of recent crimes in the area.
What do I do if I have an issue with my landlord?
If you are an undergraduate, you may contact legal services in the Student Association (if the landlord involved is not a current UAlbany student) and/or contact United Tenants, Inc. (a pro-tenant group/service in Albany) at 436-8997. Graduate students should contact United Tenants, Inc. at 436-8997, as they are not eligible to use Student Association legal services.
Should I purchase apartment insurance?
It is recommended that you have some form of “renter’s insurance.” You can check with your parents/family about getting a “rider” on their homeowner’s policy or call a local insurance agent about getting your own policy.
What is a Residential Occupancy Permit?
You have the right to a safe and secure apartment. Be sure your apartment has a “Residential Occupancy Permit” by asking your landowner to show you this document that verifies that the City of Albany has inspected your rental unit. Part of this inspection requires that landowners install specific security devices in your apartment. Questions – call the Division of Building and Codes at 434-5995.
Should my apartment be equipped with fire and Carbon Monoxide detectors?
In New York State, fire code says that smoke detectors must be installed:
  • On the ceiling or wall outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of bedrooms.
  • In each room used for sleeping purposes.
  • In each story within a dwelling unit, including basements and cellars but not including crawl spaces and uninhabitable attics.
New York State Law requires as of February 22, 2010 all residences, both new and existing, to have carbon monoxide alarms installed.
If you have questions – please call the Albany Fire Department at 447-7879.
What if I decide to have a party?
It is your responsibility to stay in control of yourself and your guests. Also for your safety and those of your guests, avoid overcrowding which might:
  • block apartment exits in case of any emergency.
  • result in your porch or entire apartment collapsing.
  • result in vehicles blocking your street in case fire, police, and/or medical units need to respond.
  • force your guests to inappropriately use “outdoor bathroom facilities.”
Talk to your neighbors before the party. Clean up after the party both inside and outside. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption which increases the risk of personal injury and even death as well as can contribute to sexual assault and legal problems.
I really want a dog…
If you own a dog, please be aware of the so-called "pooper scooper" law. As cited in the New York State Health Law, Section 1310: "it shall be the duty of each dog owner to remove any feces left by his [her] dog on any sidewalk, gutter, street or other public area." Any violators brought to Albany City Court could be charged a civil penalty of up to $100.00
What happens in the City of Albany if I get caught with a fake ID?
Getting caught with a fake ID (altering a NYS Driver’s License) is a Class D Felony and the police do not take it lightly. In recent years, there has been increased enforcement of this law, with penalties for arrest averaging $250 plus mandatory 40 hours of community service.
What is the Grouper Law?
In the City of Albany there exists a zoning ordinance which has come to be known as the so-called “Grouper Law.” This ordinance only permits four or more persons to live in any dwelling unit if they are members of a traditional family or the functional equivalent of a traditional family. Specifically this ordinance states (Family Definition; section 375-7 zoning ordinance):
1. Shall mean
1. one, two, or three persons occupying a dwelling unit or
2. four or more persons occupying a dwelling unit and living as a traditional family or the functional equivalent of a traditional family
2. It shall be presumptive evidence that four or more unrelated persons living in a single dwelling unit do not constitute the functional equivalent of a traditional "family"

Therefore, three unrelated persons occupying a dwelling unit is the maximum allowed by this ordinance.
What is the Social Host Law?
There is a “Social Host Law” now in effect in Albany County. It states that “No person having control [the authority and ability to regulate, director dominate] of any premises [any home, apartment, condominium, co-operative unit or other dwelling unit of any kind and public or private property, including yards and open areas adjacent thereto] shall knowingly host, suffer, permit, organize or allow an open house party to take place at said premises where three (3) or more minors [any persons under the age of 21] are present and any alcoholic beverage or drug is unlawfully possessed, served to or consumed by a minor at said premises.” Failure to comply is punishable by a fine which shall not exceed $500.00, or imprisonment not exceeding 15 days or a combination of such fine and imprisonment as shall be fixed by the court.
Does the University work with the City of Albany to help keep off-campus students safe?
The University makes safety a priority and works continually with the City of Albany to increase safety in the Pine Hills neighborhood, which is where many of our off-campus students live.
There are a number of programs to make the environment off campus safer and more secure. Some of these programs include:
  • The Committee on University & Community Relations (created in 1990) which is led by the University and has a major goal to improve safety off campus. The committee is currently composed of student leaders and professional staff from the University at Albany as well as other local colleges - specifically the College of Saint Rose, the Albany College of Pharmacy, the Albany Medical College, the Junior College of Albany/The Sage Colleges, Siena College and Hudson Valley Community College, officials from the Albany Police and Fire Departments as well as the Albany Common Council, neighborhood association representatives, community and religious leaders, tavern owners, landowners and representatives from the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association and the New York State Division of Alcohol Beverage Control. Membership is open to anybody who wishes to join.
  • The Midtown Neighborhood Watch program is a partnership between the University Police Department, the Albany Police Department and the College of St. Rose Safety/Security Department and involves patrols in the areas students frequent and in which they reside. These patrols serve as the “eyes and ears” for the Albany Police Department and they also regularly hand out safety tips information on their patrols.
  • Operation Safe Corridor is a partnership between the University Police Department, the Albany Police Department and the College of St. Rose Safety/Security Department that offers safer corridor streets to our students off campus as they traverse the local neighborhoods. This program’s goal is to get our students to utilize the safer corridor streets and not walk on less used streets or alleys in the local neighborhoods.
  • The WhistleWatch Safety Program offers free safety alert whistles to University students, faculty and staff as well as local long term neighbors. Since the program began in 1993, over 30,000 whistles have been handed out to individuals at the University. The College of St. Rose and the Albany Medical College and Center are also part of this safety alert program.
  • The “Albany Disabled Alert Program” offers free battery-operated emergency alarms to those individuals at the University who cannot physically use a WhistleWatch whistle.
  • A number of safety educational initiatives are conducted on a regular basis in the neighborhoods where our students reside. Among these are door-to-door apartment safety chats and late night “Safety Walk & Talks” all conducted by the University Police Department, the Albany Police Department and the College of St. Rose Safety/Security Department. In addition 6000 safety door tags and 3000 copies of “The Off-Campus Student Survival Guide – How to Be Safer and a Better Neighbor” are distributed door-to-door off campus where our students reside every academic year.
  • Additional Albany Police Department patrols are requested by the University during all University recesses and anti-burglary tips for off-campus students are posted on our campuses as well as e-mailed to all our off-campus students.