Carbondale Apartment hunting requires careful planning

By Kelly E. Hertlein

Students, beware: Renting can be hazardous to your pocketbook.Each semester, students who are eligible to leave the dorms behind move into apartments, houses or mobile homes.However, there are many important facts and details that students should know before paying their first month’s rent.Mike Peterman, co-owner of Bel-Aire Mobile Home Park, suggests looking at apartments, houses or mobile homes as early as possible to find good locations. “The best selection is available in early February for the August semester,” he said. “People even come in as early as January and by May, usually, everything is gone.”Peterman also said to always keep an open mind. A prospective renter should not settle on the first place he or she comes across, as better deals may be lurking right down the road.”Most of the time,” he said, “prospective tenants will decide on about five or six models and then choose from there, depending on price and size.” Jennifer Hart, an undecided sophomore from East Peoria, said the safest way to choose a dwelling is to look at its cost and at its lease as well. “You should ask to see a copy of the lease and read it,” she said. “Check if the apartment is furnished, then double check all of the appliances and furnishings that are included in the lease because some of the establishments do not include what the lease says you are supposed to receive.” Another problem that may occur with leases is understanding the responsibilities of each tenant. Kelly French, manager of Garden Park Apartments, said tenants often are unsure of whether or not they are signing joint leases. In a joint lease, all roommates are subject to the leasing contract and are responsible for each other. “Prospective tenants should make sure they know everyone [who signs a lease] is responsible for the lease,” French said. “If one roommate moves out or drops out of school, the rest of the tenants in that apartment will have to make up each month for his or her rent. “However, the lease is not the only concern one should have when fearing that a roommate will move out. Hart said that before installing service of any kind, such as electricity, cable or others, decide whose name will appear on contracts. Dividing the responsibility between roommates usually works best.” If you have only one person’s name on every service bill, then you are more likely to take advantage of that person by asking to pay later,” Hart said. “But if everyone has their own service charge with their name on it, you are more likely to pay the bills on time. “Other bills that may slip past consideration are water and trash fees, which many Carbondale landlords include in rent. Kathleen Kelly, a junior in athletic training from Bloomingdale, said tenants should check to see if water and trash fees are included in rent or paid separately.”The amount of rent per month may be cheaper if water and trash are already included,” Kelly said. And although bills and leases may sound like the most important factors to consider when renting for the first time, French and Peterman both agree that getting along with any roommates is the most important aspect in hunting for a place to live. “(First-time renters) should chose each other wisely,” French said. “They have to get along and make sure they can live together.” Peterman said choosing the right roommate is important. “Habits cause friction between roommates, and that is how I lose some of my tenants,” Peterman said. “They think they will be able to live together when in reality they just can’t.”