Living Off Campus

Please note: Incoming first-year students (regardless of academic class standing) are required to live on campus. Residents must apply for housing or have an approved exemption request. 

Students have access to alternative, private housing options near both of our Allendale and Grand Rapids campuses. These complexes are not affiliated with Grand Valley State University and will need to be contacted directly for more information. Any agreements you enter into for off campus housing are solely your responsibility.

The GVSU Office of Housing and Residence Life is not responsible for, and will not be a party to, any rental agreement established between you and any other parties. This includes, but is not limited to, landlords, other tenants, roommates, and students of GVSU. This guide from the MSU College of Law Housing Clinic may serve as a resource. Additionally, you can click here for some information on living within the code of compliance in the city of Grand Rapids. You (and your landlord) must adhere to code compliances.

Know Your Rights & Laws

  • A landlord may not refuse to rent to you or discriminate against you in your rental agreement because of your identity, marital status, ability, family responsibilities, or source of income.
  • Your apartment should be clean & ready for you on your move-in date.
  • Understand all of the keys & paperwork you should be given upon move-in (apartment keys, mail box keys, misc. keys/fobs, parking permit, inventory checklist, etc.).
  • Understand the purpose of your security deposit:
    • Your security deposit could be kept by the owner of the property without any explanation.
    • If you don't provide a forwarding address within a specified time period before moving out, you are forfeiting your right to an itemized list of damages.
  • Rent increases are not allowed during the term of your lease unless a provision to allow it is in your rental contract.
  • In most cases, your landlord does not have the right to enter your apartment without your permission or a written notice at least 24 hours in advance. You should grant them access to make repairs.
  • Check reviews on,,, and (Better Business Bureau), etc. 

Renting Tips

  • Read & understand your lease & contract terms, fees, & what is expected of you prior to your move in/out dates.
  • Know what utilities are included in your rent & what utilities will be put into your name. Know if the landlord splits utilities for you or if you & your roommate(s) have to split & collect the payment. Ask for average utility costs or call the utility company.
  • Know the duration of your lease (6, 9, 10, or 12-months, academic year, etc.)
  • Know if your lease is for the entire apartment or just a bedroom. If someone leaves, will you become responsible for their portion of the lease?
  • If you have to leave for any reason, is there a way to break your lease? What if you leave for medical reasons? Or are no longer a GVSU student?
  • Is there a pet policy? What if you need an emotional support animal? What fees might be associated with owning a pet?
  • Who do you go to if you & a roommate have a disagreement? How does management handle roommate conflicts?
  • Check & inspect the building materials & quality. How is the window & wall insulation?
  • Return your inventory checklist within the specified period to receive all keys & avoid additional fees.
  • What if you lose your keys outside of business hours? Who do you call?
  • Promptly report any repairs or problems in writing that need to be addressed.
  • Do not remove anything from the unit that is not yours.
  • Park only in designated areas.
  • Your unit must be clean & damage free upon move-out to avoid any damage charges.

Contract Terminology

Landlord - Owner of the property.

Lease - Contract terms for a specified period of time (usually 12 months).

Contract - Binding agreement between you & property management (landlord).

Rent - Amount of money you pay to live in your unit along with when it is due & how to pay it.

Security Deposit - Amount of money paid to secure your unit (usually the first & last month's rent). May also be used to pay for any damages or cleaning fees. Ask how this will be handled & any other fees associated with it.

Co-signer/Guarantor - Secondary signer of your lease who will not live in the unit. Used when someone has poor or unestablished credit. This person will be responsible for your rent payment if you cannot pay.

Credit History - Public record of your credit or debt. Skipping rent or late payments will affect your credit score for seven years.

Eviction - Formal process of lease termination by your landlord. Must leave by a specified date. Becomes part of your renter credit history.

Sublease - When a renter rents part of or all of the apartment to a third party.

Renter's Insurance - Coverage for personal belongings & liability in the event of theft, fire, water damage, etc. The landlord's insurance only covers the structure of their building, not your personal assets.

Page last modified April 4, 2022