The Carolina Union Activities Board sponsored the "Apartment Rental 101" forum in the Carmichael Fishbowl to focus on necessary life skills.
Ashley Lorance, a member of the board's miscellaneous committee, said she thought many students would find the topic timely and helpful.
"I felt this was one of the biggest needs for students on campus right now," Lorance said.
The forum featured five speakers familiar with rental processes in the Chapel Hill and Carrboro areas.
Christian Francis, founder of chapelhillrent.com, said his Web site allows people looking for property an easy and convenient outlet. His site features pictures, contact information and maps for all listed properties. Francis advised students to allow ample time to rent places. "The best time to start looking for a place for this summer or next fall is now," he said.
Carol Badgett, a lawyer from SLS, addressed legal issues facing students renting off campus. She said students should be aware of their rights as tenants and should pay close attention to their leases. "Watch out for automatic renewals in leases and pay attention to the required period for termination notices," she said.
Junior Britt Whitesell, founder and director of the Carolina Rental Advocacy Group, voiced a student's perspective on renting.
Whitesell said she and her roommates had no idea about all the details renting entails when they began looking for an off-campus house. "There are a lot of hidden costs that you have to watch out for," she said. "Things like utilities and Internet connections add up quick."
Whitesell said the two biggest aspects to be aware of are financial and parking issues. "Transportation is a big problem for a lot of students," she said. "You need to find out how many spaces you're allotted and get to know the bus schedule."
Chapel Hill landlords Carolyn Baucom and Steve Mills emphasized the importance of renter's insurance and communication.
Mills said purchasing renter's insurance could save students a lot of money. "You never know when something like Hurricane Floyd will come along and ruin your apartment," he said. "One hundred and twenty-five dollars a year will go a long way in those situations."
Baucom said student communication facilitates the process of successfully finding an off-campus living space. "The best way to find a great place to live is to ask around and find good landlords and neighborhoods."
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