- What should I know before starting my apartment search?
Follow our step-by-step instructions on our Get Started page. We will walk you through budgeting, roommate selection, neighborhood options and assist you in finding an apartment and signing a lease.
- How do I find an apartment?
Northeastern has an online database with apartment listings, sublet listings, roommate profiles and recommended realtors. Sign up for the online Housing Database using your Husky email address to gain access to current listings.
- How can I find roommates?
In the Housing Database, create a Roommate Profile and browse roommate profiles. Find a roommate (or a room) with someone that share similar interests, habits or expectations. Don’t forget to use your social networks to look for roommates too, but be wary that good friends don’t always make good roommates.
- What is the No More Than 4 rule?
The City of Boston Ordinance known as “No More Than 4” was put into place to curb overcrowded undergraduate apartments off campus. This is to ensure that undergraduate students are living in safe environments that have enough fire escapes (minimum 2 egresses), legitimate bedrooms, and the appropriate square footage per person.Make sure all your roommates are on the lease so they have access to their rights as a tenant. Be wary of any landlord or realtor that does not follow this safety precaution.
- How can I find a trusted realtor?
Sign up to use our Housing Database to view our list of recommended realtors (select the Agents/Brokers menu tab) and browse apartment listings realtors have posted.
- How much will I have to pay upfront?
You are expected to pay 4 months of rent if working with a broker/realtor. The four payments are as follows: first month’s rent, last month’s rent, security deposit and a broker/realtor fee. A broker fee cannot exceed one month’s rent. Lastly, if a new lock is being put on the unit, a landlord may charge for a new key/lock fee. Read more under Rental Costs.
- Do I need a co-signor?
Most landlords require students to have a co-signor. A co-signor agrees to pay the rent if the tenants are unable to do so. Co-signors are often parents or guardians. Co-signors are subject to credit checks or may be asked to provide proof of income.
- What if I do not have a co-signor?
If you do not have a co-signor you may have difficulty securing an apartment. A landlords wants reassurance that you will be able to pay the rent for the entire term. If you have funding documents (bank statements, I-20, DS-2019, or pay stubs) to provide you may be able to work something out. It is up to the landlord if they want to accept a tenant without a co-signor as they are not required to do so.
- What is a broker fee?
Landlords (individuals that own the property) hire brokers to show their apartments to prospective tenants. A broker fee is paid by the tenants. This fee is the cost to work with a realtor, agent or broker. A broker will meet with you to understand what you are looking for (price, location, priorities) and find an apartment that meets your criteria. The broker will show you apartments, answer your questions, and perform an application filling or credit checks. You do not pay a broker fee until you have found the apartment and agree to sign the lease. The broker will draw up the lease and paperwork.
- Can someone help me understand a lease?
- What is a Tenant-At-Will lease?
This is often called a month-to-month lease where both tenant and landlord agree to terms and payment for a short period of time (typically less than a year). This type of lease allows tenants and landlords to make changes with 30 days notice (examples: raising rent, moving out) Learn more about tenant-at-will leases.
- Which fees are illegal?
The only legal fees are first month’s rent, last month’s rent, security deposit and a lock fee. A realtor can charge for a credit check but not charge a generic application fee. Illegal fees include application fees, pet fees, pest removal fees, and lease re-signing fees. If you feel you are being charged an illegal fee, consult the Boston Office of Housing Stability at (617) 635-4200 or at email@example.com.
- Can I break my lease?
It is very difficult to break a lease. You may be able to discuss changing the terms of your lease with your landlord and amend the move out date, however, the landlord is not obligated to grant permission to do so unless there are extenuating circumstances. We recommend contacting our office directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, 617-373-8480, or visit us in 226 Curry Student Center. We can advise you on your rights, your lease terms, and next steps for your specific situation and needs.
- Who is responsible for removing pests?
The landlord is responsible for scheduling and paying for pest removal and treatment. The tenant is responsible for maintaining the unit and keeping it free from garbage and bed-bug infested furniture. Clean apartments attract less pests. It is the tenant’s responsibility to notify the landlord to inform them of any problems, including pest infestations. Learn more here.
- I’m moving out soon. What should I do to prepare so I get my security deposit back?
Always communicate your plan with your landlord. Send an email or write a letter to confirm your last day, key return procedure, and to provide a forwarding address for your security deposit. Follow all cleaning guidelines on your lease. A landlord should not require you to hire a professional cleaning service but if you agree to it in your lease you will need to provide documentation that you paid for a cleaning. Save a receipt for your records. Regardless of what your lease states, you must leave any apartment “broom swept” clean and remove all personal belongings and trash. Schedule a final walk through with your landlord or property manager before you leave so you aren’t caught off guard by repairs or listed damages. Remember, you may only be charged for anything beyond normal “wear and tear.” Review our tips for moving out.
- What happens to my security deposit?
Your landlord must place your security deposit in a separate interest-bearing account. You should receive a receipt for your security deposit with the bank name and account number where the funds are being held. The landlord must return the security deposit (plus interest accrued) 30 days after the end of your lease term and may only deduct funds for the following reasons: 1) Unpaid rent, 2) Damages beyond normal wear and tear, 3) Tenant’s percentage of property tax increase (if stated in the lease). If your landlord deducts money for damages, they must provide itemized receipts. More info here. If you do not receive your deposit or disagree with damages, contact your landlord in writing and send the letter via Certified Mail.
- I’m having trouble with my landlord. Who can I speak to?
We are here to help you navigate a conversation with your landlord. Email, call or stop by our office for advice to learn more about your rights as a renter. The City of Boston also has resources including the Boston Office of Housing Stability and Inspectional Services Department. You may call 3-1-1 for city support or download the BOS:311 app. Additional city and legal resources can be found under Boston Resources.
- Can my landlord raise the rent?
It depends on the terms of the lease. If you are in a fixed term lease, the landlord cannot raise the rent during the “fixed term.” If you are a tenant-at-will, a landlord may raise the rent by giving you 30 days notice. It is typical for a landlord to raise the rent each year if you decide to re-sign, but this would be considered a new lease term.
- I received an eviction notice. What do I do?
Contact our office for advice on how to proceed. We are available on a drop-in basis or you may schedule a meeting by calling 617-373-8480 or send us an email. Bring all documentation with you (current lease, eviction notice, any emails or messages exchanged with your landlord or property manager). We will want to gather more information in order to provide you the best advice and refer you to the appropriate resources.
Review our subletting page to begin. Use the Northeastern Housing Database. Use these two great features: 1) Housing Search and 2) Roommate Search. Housing Search allows you to filter listings so you only see ‘sublet’ listings posted by fellow students. The Roommate Search feature allows you to see students that need someone to fill their room, or fill another room, in their current apartment. You should also make a roommate profile of your own so students can find you when they are searching for someone that “Needs A Room” or “Has a Room.”