Resources

Find information about living Off-Campus and browse through our collection of resources.

Preparing for Your Search

  • Before you begin your search of off-campus housing, please consider VCU’s on-campus housing options. All returning VCU student, regardless of whether or not you have lived in on-campus housing before are eligible to participate in the on-campus housing process. VCU provides residence hall and apartment style living at a competitive rate. Students living on campus tend to have higher GPAs and graduate sooner. VCU Residential Life and Housing has added 1500 additional on-campus beds allowing us to better serve the needs of upper class students. Please visit the on-campus application page here, https://housing.vcu.edu/ application/ for details on the process.

    Starting your off campus housing search can be a daunting task, but have no fear!  Off Campus Student Services is here to help you get through it all. This "Preparing for Your Search" section provides information to help you learn about how to decide if you should live off-campus and where to start in looking for off-campus housing.

    There is NO Housing Shortage in Richmond, however it may be difficult to locate housing that meets all your expectations.

    There is no need to sign a lease in a hurry. Remember a lease is a legal binding contract between you and the landlord, and signing one prematurely can cause all sorts of consequences, including some extensive financial ones. First and foremost, do not rush into making the housing decision.

    Steps for locating off campus housing include:

    • Create a budget.
      • OCSS host Budget Workshops every 2 weeks.
      • Sample Budgets are located under "Resources -Preparing for Your Search"
    • Identify what your needs and expectations are for a property and roommates.
      • Consider: Budget, Type of Lease, Number of Roommates, Location, Building Structure, Structure Age & Condition, Amenities Included, Proximity to Public Transportation etc.
        • There are two types of leases offered in Richmond – individual and joint leases.
          • An individual lease is when a tenant signs for a single room, meaning he or she is individually responsible for paying rent and any damages to the room and common areas. However, this may also mean the landlord can place any tenant in remaining rooms in the apartment or townhome. Be sure to check with your property management company about these policies prior to lease signing.
          • A joint lease is a lease signed by all tenants, making the entire group responsible for damages and paying the full rent. This places the choice of filling empty bedrooms in the home on the tenants themselves.
      • A Self Quiz is available below that will assist with this step. 
    • Locate housemates or roommates, if needed:
      • Consider what type of tenant you are – either housemate or roommate. Seek others that have similar expectations. Tension may rise quickly when a roommate shares a space with someone simply seeking a housemate, or vice versa.
      • Word of mouth is the most popular way to locate mates.
      • Housemate and roommate profiles are available for review on our website.
      • Meet with housemates or roommates and discuss:
        • Expectations of one another. Similar expectations will lead to successful living arrangements.
        • Costs. What are your budgets? What is most important to each of you in a unit/location?
        • Habits: What are your habits like? Neat or messy? Early riser or night owl? Pet peeves?
      • Roommate profiles are available for review under "Roommates" at the top of this website.
    • Research and compare properties that meet your needs.
      • If you are able, drive through Richmond during day and nighttime to locate areas of preference. If you are unable, you may utilize Google/Maps – Streetview to explore. This site will also calculate commuting times to campus by foot, bike, bus or car.
      • Listings are available at offcampus.usca.vcu.edu. Included are all the properties that want to advertise to the VCU community. Please note the multiple filters available under the Housing tab. If you would like to see more options, please check out:
        • VCU Facebook Groups. Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Housing, Sublets & Roommates, the Housing page within the VCU group, Class of 2019, Class of 2020, Class of 2021...School of Medicine, School of Pharmacy…etc.
        • Printed materials across town including the Apartment Navigators publication.
      • If you are able, walk through the areas, you are interested in. Many landlords simply post signs in the windows or yards for vacancies due to the high traffic.
      • Word of mouth is the most common way that houses are located.
    • Narrow your list of properties to 3 - 5 properties.
      • See if there have been past complaints about the landlord, management company, or property via their Facebook pages, Google Review, or the Better Business Bureau. If you are able, talk to past tenants.
      • Call to verify availability, costs, and to set up a tour.
        • Complexes may have model units and will be able to assist you quickly.
        • Private landlords and property management companies may need to give their tenants notice prior to escorting you through their unit. This can take up to a week to arrange.
        • If you are out of the area, ask the property management company to give you a live chat tour. Many times the staff can show you the unit live utilizing their phone’s camera.
    • Tour properties.
      • Bring:
        • ID
        • List of needs/wants
        • Potential housemates
        • Parents/Co-Signers
        • Phone/Camera
        • List of Previous Residencies
        • List of questions to discuss
      • Discuss:
        • Type of lease
        • Average utility expenses
        • Amenities included
        • Closest grocery store? Gym? Etc.
        • Maintenance procedures
        • Roommate matching process
      • Note:
        • SEE - Damages, leaks, cracks in windows? What about work orders and repairs?
        • SMELL- Musty, smoke? Does a neighbor smoke and you can smell it? Are you living above a restaurant?
        • HEAR- How thin are the walls? Is there a bar nearby that you would hear late at night? Are there any train tracks nearby?
    • Submit a completed application for properties you are most interested in.
      • Be sure to ask about availability, procedures and timeline required to secure a unit.
      • Application fees are normally around $30-$50 and are not refundable.
      • Applications are not binding.
      • Applications allow for the landlord to run a background and credit check on you.
    • Secure a co-signer.
      • Either you, or a co-signer, will need to meet the financial obligations required by the property. Usually this includes being a US citizen, earning 3x the monthly rent, and having a good credit score.
      • If you are unable to provide a co-signer, each property should have policies established for this. Many will require you to provide bank account statements and/or pay a larger deposit.
    • Review and sign the lease.
      • Note:
        • Start/End dates
        • Costs (rent, deposit, utilities)
        • Rent (due date, how to pay)
        • Roommates listed on lease
        • Maintenance issues
        • Automatic renewal process
        • Early termination ability
        • Policies (smoking, pets, guests…)
      • Once a unit is available, the landlord should have you sign the lease.
      • Make sure that all co-signer and housemates are present and sign together.
      • Have a check or money order for security deposit, first month’s rent and fees with you.
      • If you would like OCSS to review your lease, please schedule an appointment with us on our website.
    • Prior to Move-in.
      • Obtain Renter’s Insurance
        • This may protect both you and your goods, if you accidentally cause an incident.
        • Check if your parent or guardian covers you on their Homeowner’s insurance prior to purchasing.
        • Most policies are affordable at less than $20 a month.
      • Arrange to buy/rent furnishing if unit is not furnished.
      • Set up utilities and pay associated deposits.
    • At Move-in.
      • Pick up your keys.
      • Complete a move-in inspection (noting and taking pictures of any damage, testing appliances) and submit it to your landlord in written form. Be sure to keep a copy for yourself.
      • Sample Move In Inspection forms are available on our website.
      • Fill out a Roommate Agreement signed by all tenants to establish expectations
  • Leasing Basics
  • Types of Leases

    There are two types of leases offered in Richmond – individual and joint leases.

    • An individual lease is when a tenant signs for a single room, meaning he or she is individually responsible for paying rent and any damages to the room and common areas. However, this may also mean the landlord can place any tenant in remaining rooms in the apartment or townhome. Be sure to check with your property management company about these policies prior to lease signing.
    • A joint lease is a lease signed by all tenants, making the entire group responsible for damages and paying the full rent. This places the choice of filling empty bedrooms in the home on the tenants themselves.
  • Search Self Quiz

    Short quiz to get you to start to identify what is important to you in your search.

  • Housing Search Tips

    Summary of information located on our website and tips to consider while looking for housing.

Housing Search

  • Area Neighborhoods
  • Cost Comparison Sheet

    Sheet that allows you to compare property costs to one another, including average utility cost information. 

    Sheet that allows you to compare property costs to one another.  For example, Property A is $800 a month including all utilities, furniture and located within walking distance. Where as Property B is $600 a month, does not include utilities, furniture and requires you to drive to campus, thus overall it is only $20 cheaper per month. 

    Sheet includes average utility cost information at the top. 

  • Relying on Financial Aid? Unable to pay deposits now?
  • Tour Checklist

    Sheet for you to fill out while touring and to use to compare properties. 

  • Unable to locate a cosigner?
  • Landlord Reviews
  • Safety Tips

    Whether you are looking for an apartment or already moved in, safety can be a major concern!  Linked is a list of tips on how to make your home a safe environment so that you can enjoy your time living off campus to its fullest! 

  • VHDA Renter Education Booklet
  • Apartment Hunters: Rental Workshop

    Apartment Hunters: Rental Workshops are held on a weekly basis.  This workshop will walk you step-by-step through the process of finding and then renting your first apartment. You’ll learn about deposits, leases, budgets, tenant/landlord rights and much more! For dates, please see home page. 

Housemate/Roommate Search

  • Roommate Search Tips

    When looking for a housemate or roommate, it is vital to identify what type of co-tenant you are seeking. 

    • Housemates are usually individuals whom would rather live independently but are unable to afford to do so. Thus each tenant tends to be respectful of the other, but keeps to themselves and their routines.  A friendship may form, however it is not the reason for living together.
    • Roommates are more common among college students.  These are tenants that have opted to live together in order to strengthen their friendship.  These individuals tend to incorporate their roommates into their routines.   

    Typically, tension arises when tenants live together with opposite intentions.  If someone seeking to be a roommate is placed with someone seeking to be a housemate, the roommate may get on the housemate's nerves for being intrusive, while the housemate may be precieved as cold or rude to their roommate. 

    In addition, it may be useful to look at how compatible you are with each person in your day to day routines.  This includes: cleanliness, cooking/eating habits, social habits, sleep/study patterns, etc.  Just because you are good friends with a person does not necessarily mean you would be compatible roommates! 

    OCSS provides different resources to aid in your roommate search including a section of our website dedicated to matching roommates and by facilitating Roommate Mixers.  We encourage you to use these resources and find the most compatible roommate for you.

    Please note that the best roommates are those that discuss their expectations prior to moving in together.  Expectations can include how often you will interact (range from eat meals and go to class together, to saying Hi as you pass in the hall way), how close a bond you hope to have (best of friends know everything about one another to like to spend time together but still have private aspects of their lives)
    Who will you live with? Who you live with may be even more important than where so live, so think through the decision of whether to have roommates and who your roommates will be. While your best friend might seem like an obvious choice, be sure that you have considered the challenges that living in close quarters will bring. Living together can strain friendships, especially if you disagree about cleanliness, parties, guests, paying bills, or expectations of each other.

    Questions to Ask Yourself as you consider looking for a roommate(s):

    • Age - Same age as you? Younger? Older?
    • Number - How many people do you want to share your home with? How many people can comfortably live with in the space you are looking at?
    • Lifestyle – What kind of lifestyle do you plan to lead in your new home? What are your study habits? What is your attitude toward overnight guests, parties, etc.? Will conflicts occur with your roommate because of different personal schedules, diets, pets, smoking, drinking, or parties?
    • Budget/Costs – What are you willing to pay as your share of rent? How are you willing to divide the rent cost (evenly, by room depending on if shared/size)?
    • Length of Time – How long are you planning on living in this home? How long are you planning on living with the same roommates?
      Responsibility – Are you willing to put your name on the utilities bill, lease, security deposit? Are you willing to have a roommate’s name on the utilities bill, lease, security deposit?
    • Chores – Will there be designated chores/responsibilities for upkeep of the home? How much do you care about cleanliness/maintenance?
      Sharing – Would you rather buy food and supplies (laundry detergent, toiletries) separately or together? What is your policy for sharing possessions including those in common areas like a computer, TV, couch? What are you willing to contribute (furniture/appliances) to furnish the home?
    • Pets – Would you like to have a pet? Would you share responsibility for its care? How many pets are you comfortable living with?
    • Parking – How important is your future parking situation? How much parking is available compared to how many potential roommates have cars?
    • Privacy – How will you determine boundaries with your roommates, your space, and your time?
    • Expectations of your Roommate Relationship - Will you want your roommate to just share the financial responsibility and space? Or will you want your roommate to be part of your social life?

    Questions to Ask A Potential Roommate as you discuss sharing a place to live:  

    • What is your level of importance of household and personal security?
    • Do you lock the doors while at home?
    • Are you concerned if your roommate has not been heard from in over 48 hours?
    • How important is a clean household?
    • How frequently do you expect your roommate to participate in household cleaning?
    • Are you OK with roommates borrowing your belongings or would you prefer they did not?
    • Are you OK with personal property being left in common areas?
    • Do you plan to share any household consumables or keep everything separate?
    • Are there any concerns about household clothing in common areas?
    • Are you OK with your roommate walking around in his/her underwear?
    • What type of relationship are you looking for with your new roommate? Are you looking for someone to hang out with or someone to just share the bills?
    • Are political or religious outlooks important to you?
    • What are your expectations of household noise? Are you a night owl or an early bird?
    • Is smoking an issue? Are certain areas off limits or designated for smoking?
    • What are your views on consumption of alcohol and/or other substances?
    • Will family members be stopping by? How frequently and for what length of time?
    • Is there a "significant other(s)" that will be stopping over? How often? Will they be staying the night? How often?
    • Are there out of town friends/family that will be visiting? 
  • Roommate Agreement

    The roommate agreement can be filled out in conjuncture with your lease in order to hold your roommates accountable.

Moving In: Utilities, Moving Day, Roommate Agreements

Settling In

  • Budget Workshops

    Budget Workshops provides students with information on how to create a basic budget, including how to budget for living expenses, savings, pay back debt and incorporate their personal values into the budgeting process. For dates and details visit our Home page. 

    If you are unable to attend, please feel free to schedule an appointment with us. 

  • Public Transportation: GRTC

    GRTC local bus service operates in many areas from 5:00 am - 1:00 am (two routes operate until 3:00 am) daily, seven days a week, and offers convenient stops close to many of Richmond’s popular destinations, plus everywhere in-between!

  • VCU Transportation: RamRide

    ‌RamRide is a shuttle service for faculty, staff and students that helps you travel safely and conveniently to, from and around VCU's campuses. RamRide routes connect the Monroe Park Campus with the MCV Campus. The Campus Connector runs M-F 6:30am to 1:00am and S-S 8am to 1am. 

  • VCU Transportation: RamAway

    Wondering how you're going to get home for a break? RamAway provides free transportation during most University holidays and semester breaks to and/or from the Richmond International Airport, Greyhound Bus Station and Amtrak at Main Street Station and Staples Mill Road.

  • Parking Lots Available in Richmond
  • Neighborhood Improvement Guide
  • Renters Insurance Information
  • PRTYSMRT.COM

    To register your party benefits you. If not, police will arrive at your location after the first complaint without warning.

  • Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act

    The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act handbook has been prepared to provide information on the rights, remedies, and responsibilities of landlords and renters concerning the rental process. Before signing a lease, prospective tenants should read and understand the terms of the contract. Consulting a lawyer or the landlord for clarification of the rental agreement is advisable. 

  • City of Richmond Ordinances
  • Virginia Fair Housing
  • Virginia Laws

Having Conflicts?

  • Housing Destroyed by Fire or Other Casualty
  • Maintenance requests going unresolved?
  • Evictions

    What if I can't pay my rent?

    • If a landlord wants to evict you, he must first take you to court.
    • Always go to court when summoned; this will help delay the eviction.
    • If you are evicted, you may still owe the rent for the rest of the lease period.
    • If your possessions are actually being removed from your property by the landlord
      and he/she has not filed the eviction with the sheriff, you may be able to get
      help from the police.
    • Until your court-ordered eviction day, the landlord has no additional rights to
      your property. This means he/she cannot turn off utilities, change locks, or enter.

    Giving Notice/Terminating a Lease

    • If you plan to move, know how much notice your lease requires before it ends.
    • A landlord can’t ask you to move during your lease period unless he/she can
      prove in court that you have violated the lease agreement.
    • A landlord can’t change the terms of the lease during the middle of the lease
      term without your permission.
    • Once the lease term is up, you or the landlord can terminate the lease without
      having to give a reason.

    What if my landlord wants to evict me for problems? 

    • The landlord must prove in court that you violated the lease.
    • The landlord must give you a chance to fix most problems before taking you
      to court.
    • Until your court-ordered eviction day, the landlord has no additional rights to
      your property. This means he/she cannot turn off utilities, change locks, or enter.
  • Other Legal Aid Resources

Getting Involved

Moving Out

  • Getting Your Security Deposit Back
    • After you have moved out, the landlord has 45 days to refund your deposit.  
    • You have the right to be present at the walk-through inspection after you move out, and the landlord must notify you of this right.
    • Make sure you are not being charged for problems that were there before you moved in. Do this by making sure you do a walk through when you move in, documenting any problems, giving the list to the landlord, and saving a copy.
  • Giving Notice and Terminating Your Lease
    • If you plan to move, know how much notice your lease requires before it ends.  
    • A landlord can’t ask you to move during your lease period unless he/she can prove in court that you have violated the lease agreement.  
    • A landlord can’t change the terms of the lease during the middle of the lease term without your permission.
    • Once the lease term is up, you or the landlord can terminate the lease without having to give a reason.
  • Donations

    Be aware that you may be fined for items left in your unit succeeding moving out. Please consider donating these items to the following non-profit organizations:

    Please note that each organization has different criteria for collection. 

  • Storage Locations in Richmond
  • Dumpsters/Bulk Pick Up

    BULK PICK UP: Accepted items include yard debris, furniture, appliances, mattresses and other large items that are not appropriate for regular trash pick up. Bulk pick up requests are serviced on a first come/first served basis. City residents must either call 311 or (804) 646-7000 or log onto http://www.richmondgov.com/mpact/ to request a pick up. Items must be placed out for collection on the day the request is made, in the event crews are able to pick it up on that day.  Bulk and brush pick up will be collected within 10 working days. If applicable, the service fees will be applied to the residents utility bill.

    DUMPSTERS: Dumpsters will be placed strategically in the Fan for student use. 

  • Whether it’s for the summer or forever, moving out requires a lot of work, but this information can make it a lot easier for you. Here you’ll find information about donations, bulk pick up and storage units.  Don't forget to turning off your utilities at the end of your lease. 

  • Damage Checklist