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Off-Campus Living – Things You Need To Know

The University of Alabama Parent & Family Programs

You may have heard your student discussing off-campus living options for next year and may have already signed a lease for the 2017–2018 year. There are a number of off-campus housing options for students to choose from, but once the lease is signed, they, and possibly you, are legally obligated to the terms of the lease. Below you will find information related to living off campus in the Tuscaloosa area.

Types of Leases

There are two types of leases: a joint lease and an individual lease. With a joint lease, everyone’s name appears on the lease; however, if someone does not pay their rent, the others must make up that difference. With an individual lease, your student is only responsible for their portion of the rent. If the others do not pay, your student is not obligated to make up their portion. Most of the larger apartment complexes are offering individual leases, while the majority of the houses for rent will be through a joint lease. Be sure to read the lease, know what type of lease you and your student are signing, and be familiar with the content of the lease before you sign it. Always ask questions if you do not understand the wording. If you do have questions about your lease, the Civil Law Clinic, located at The University of Alabama Law School, will meet with your student to discuss and explain the lease. They can be reached at 205-348-4906.

Types of Rental Properties

Your student should carefully consider where they want to live, and if they want the responsibility of living in a house or if they prefer an apartment. Many of the larger apartment complexes are now offering all-inclusive options. This means that you have one payment each month and includes the rent and utilities. Furniture is often included as well. It is up to you and your student to decide what option is best. Rental houses typically do not include utilities or furniture in the cost.

Tuscaloosa Occupancy Limits

The City of Tuscaloosa has an occupancy restriction regarding the number of unrelated people that can live together. In most areas of the City, occupancy is limited to no more than three unrelated people living together. However, in the Historic Districts, in most instances, the limit is no more than two unrelated residents. Some rental properties in the area do allow up to 5 unrelated people to live together. It is always best to confirm what the occupancy restriction is for the rental your student is considering. You can call the City of Tuscaloosa at 205-248-5311, give them the address of the rental property, and they can confirm the limit for you before you sign a lease.

Renter’s Responsibilities

While the landlord has the responsibility to provide a living environment that meets all building codes for health and safety, among other responsibilities of maintaining the property, your student has responsibilities as well. Tenants are expected to pay the rent on time; follow the landlord’s rules for the property; maintain the rental property in a responsible manner; use all electrical, plumbing, heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems in a responsible manner; and respect the privacy of neighbors.

  • Help your student by encouraging them to fully understand the terms of their lease before signing.
  • Shop around to know the options available to your student before signing a lease.
  • Be aware of the occupancy limits in the neighborhood where your student will be living to avoid and penalties associated with violating the limits.
  • Encourage your student to ask questions of their landlord to best understand their responsibilities as a tenant.

Off Campus Resources staff members are available to assist you and your student in locating off-campus housing and to answer any questions you may have related to off-campus living. The off-campus housing website allows you to search for housing from among hundreds of options that are available. Under the “Resources” tab, you will find information related to living in Tuscaloosa, how to get your utilities turned on, occupancy and zoning information, safety tips, and more.

Please visit our website at or contact us at 205-348-0200 for additional information related to off-campus living.



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