Frequently Asked Questions About Finding Housing
This page is designed to help you find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Campus Area Housing. Please make use of the links given - - they are your fastest pathway to a helpful answer.Overview of Campus Area Housing Service
What is the Campus Area Housing Listing Service?
The Campus Area Housing Listing Service, provided by Campus and Visitor Relations, is the centralized source at UW-Madison for people who are searching for privately-owned housing rentals. The listing service provides a Web site where people may search for housing, advertise a sublet or other vacancy, or list an opening for a roommate.
Searching for housing on the Campus Area Housing Web site does not require a subscription or registration and is absolutely FREE.
To learn more about renting in the campus and downtown area, please read the new Campus Area Housing Rental Resource Guide (PDF version).
What are some myths about living in the neighboring campus communities in Madison?
Fact: Many houses and apartments listed with the Campus Area Housing Listing Service are within easy walking distance of academic buildings. There is a Yahoo Maps link provided in the listing details to help you determine the specific location of the listed property.
Preparing to Rent
When is the best time to look for housing in Madison?
Date advertising begins
Greatest selection of listings exist:
Completely vacant units: December-April
Roommate listings: April-August
1. Unless you have specific preferences, i.e., you are living with a large number of people who want to live in a specific location/street, there is NO NEED TO RUSH.
2. Although the majority of listings are submitted December through January, significant selection options continue through the remainder of the Spring semester and into the summer.
1. Most leases in the campus area end August 14 or 15. Because of the extensive number of sublets available in the Spring Semester, you might be able to negotiate a shorter lease term or lower rent.
Summer Long Term
1. If you are looking for a long-term lease beginning in the summer, you may want to consider renting a summer sublet and trying to renew that lease for the fall. If a fall renewal is not available, begin looking in advance for another unit to move into when your sublet ends.
1. Many Summer Sublets offer reduced rents and flexible lease periods.
"November Rush" Leasing Myth
At one time there was a shortage of quality campus area housing options for students. With the addition of several large buildings in close proximity to campus in recent years, there is no longer a housing shortage. Despite this change, the rush to sign leases and the pressure to do so each November continues. Today, it is very much a renters market - with more housing vacancies than students to fill them.
Students should not feel pressured to sign leases so far in advance - unless, there is a specific location that you want to live in, at any expense.
Generally speaking, if you're looking for something modest and convenient to campus, after winter break is the best time to start looking for leases to start the following Fall semester. That is when you'll find that you know your circumstances better; and you'll also find the broadest rental selection, and reasonable rent prices.
Where should I stay while I'm in Madison looking for housing?
There are a variety of lodging options, both on campus and in the Madison and Dane County area. Visit info.wisc.edu for more information.
How much can I expect to pay for rent?
How much can I expect to pay for rent?
Determine your needs and budget. Below are rent ranges and averages taken from a sample of units listed with Campus Area Housing for the 2011-2012 lease period.
Many factors may affect rent and overall living expenses:
- Location and size of apartment
- Lease length
- Number of occupants
- Utilities (heat/electricity)
- Telephone, Internet, cable
|2013-2014 Rent Ranges|
Rent Free Rooms:
- If you are interested in being a live-in attendant for people with disabilities, please contact: Access to Independence, at 608-242-8484. Free rooms plus a salary are may be available in exchange for your assistance.
- The Homeshare Program matches students with older adults who need help to continue living independently in their own home. A student may provide housekeeping, light maintenance and assistance with other tasks in exchange for free rent or other consideration. The details of the exchanged services vary with the needs of the individuals. Contact: Homeshare Program, Independent Living, at (608) 274-7900.
How do I find housing that is in a residential neighborhood or suitable for my family?
To maximize your search for affordable family housing, keep in mind the following:
- Units located more than 1-2 miles from campus are more likely to be in a residential neighborhood.
- If a faculty member's primary residence is available for rent though our service, it will be classified as such on the listings.
- If you are a new faculty member, generally a staff person in your hiring department or in our office may be happy to conduct a preliminary review of available rental housing.
Are there minimum requirements and maintenance codes?
The property owner is required to provide you with a list of any outstanding building code violations when you are looking at the apartment, if any exist at that time. Should s/he not do so, contact the City Building Inspection Department at 210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., Madison and fill out a simple form requesting information on any outstanding violations for a specific address. This information can tell you much about the building's physical condition as well as the property owner's maintenance standards. For more information regarding maintenance requirements and codes visit the Tenant Resource Center.
Should I rent an apartment sight unseen?
The University of Wisconsin-Madison does not inspect or offer any guarantee for the condition or quality of the rental units listed and does not endorse any of the listed properties.
Campus Area Housing strongly urges you to read your lease carefully and recommends that you visit Madison to inspect the dwelling personally before making legally binding arrangements, such as signing a lease.
How do I find short-term housing?
Leases for units near campus typically run for one year from mid-August. Here are some hints for finding short-term leases:
- Look at all of the housing listings which meet your criteria for the rental season you are interested in, regardless of the posted lease length. Some property owners will offer short-term leases in exchange for increased monthly rent and lease lengths in the Spring and Summer are typically negotiable. In addition, waiting until Summer to sign a lease for a Fall vacancy may increase your chances of obtaining a short-term lease. Once you have identified the properties that interest you most, phone them to inquire as to if they would be willing to consider a shorter term lease.
- Apartment complexes further from campus and rooms in private homes, boarding houses, and cooperatives may offer shorter lease terms.
- Investigate signing a one year lease and finding a sublessor for the remainder of the lease. You may advertise your sublet with Campus Area Housing for a minimal fee. Be sure to confirm before signing your lease that the owner will permit you to sublet. Not all property owners permit this. Also, if you are unable to find a sublessor, you will remain responsible for the entire leases' rent.
As an international student, how do I make my housing arrangements?
All students are responsible for arranging their own housing accommodations. Campus Area Housing does not recommend signing a lease before seeing the actual apartment you are renting. For information on temporary housing for one to three nights while looking for permanent housing, contact Madison Bridge Program in advance of your arrival at 608-263-4010. A variety of lodging options, both on campus and in the Madison area are listed on the Campus and Visitor Relations web site.
Will I have a problem parking my car?
On-campus parking is extremely limited. If you must bring a vehicle when moving to Madison, we recommend searching for housing that includes parking.
All Campus Area Housing listings indicate whether they have parking available. If your property owner does not provide parking, many options are offered below.
Daily parking options in close proximity to campus:
- The City of Madison offers a Residential Parking Permit for a small fee. The permit is only valid in specific areas, and allows residents to park for up to 48 hours in the same on-street space. For more information, contact the City of Madison Residential Parking Division at (608) 267-1104.
- On-campus parking may be available if you are a student who commutes from outside the Madison Metro bus lines or has special needs. Visit UW Transportation Services for details.
- Information about area parking ramps can be found at Campus and Visitor Relations.
Long term / semester parking
- Some rental property owners on the fringes of campus offer parking spaces. Campus and Visitor Relations maintains a list of these options.
- UW Madison has long-term permits available for specific lots on campus. Visit UW Transportation Services for details.
Other transportation related resources
- Community Car is a member-based car-sharing service that provides cars by the hour for individuals and organizations. Members share access to a fleet of high gas-mileage and hybrid-electric vehicles located in reserved parking spots throughout the city.
- Madison has an excellent bus service for most areas of the city. All students, faculty, and staff are eligible to receive a free bus pass. Contact the Associated Students of Madison (ASM) at 608-265-4276 for information on the free passes. Contact the Madison Metro Transit Office at 608-266-4466 for route and schedule information.
What about Private Residence Halls? What are they like?
Privately-owned residence halls are residence hall (dormitory) living arrangements that are owned and operated by private companies or individuals. The privately-owned halls provide a group living situation conducive to meeting other students and help ease students into college life. Many include a meal plan, Resident Assistants and planned events and activities. Follow this link to conduct a search to include private residence hall listings.
What is a lease and what should I look for when signing a lease?
A lease is a binding legal contract. Properly executed leases will be upheld in local courts.
Make sure you read your lease completely and carefully before signing. The Tenant Resource Center is available to review a lease with you. Make sure that all blanks are filled in and obtain copies of the lease and any other documents attached to it. Keep these materials in a safe and accessible place.
Make sure that all verbal "promises" are written into the lease. If your agreement to rent is contingent upon any promises made by the property owner, get those promises in writing as part of the lease. This is especially important in the case of promised repairs. Be sure to include a completion date in the clause. Only a written guarantee assures you that the promises will be fulfilled. Both parties should sign and date these additions to the lease.
Will I need to give earnest money or a security deposit to hold an apartment? When will I get my deposit back? What if I move out early?
This may be a complex topic. For more information and any other questions about security deposits, please contact the Tenant Resource Center.
Do I need a check-in form?
The property owner should provide a check-in form when you move in. You should be given at least seven days from your move-in date to complete and return the form. Inspect your dwelling unit and list any damage to the unit on the check-in form (i.e. holes, scratches, stains). Be very detailed, and take clear pictures of any pre-existing damages marks or scrapes, whenever possible. Write down anything you could get charged for. Both parties should sign the check-in form. Joint inspection with the property owner/manager may be preferred. Keep a copy of the check-in form and return another copy to the property owner/manager.
Do I need a parent/guardian to co-sign?
Many, but not all, property owners require students to have a parent/guardian co-sign their lease. Check with the owner or manager to find out whether or not a co-signer is required.
Roommates and You
How do I find a roommate?
Campus Area Housing provides listings for individuals seeking roommates. The greatest number of Fall roommate listings are advertised April through August. Most leases in Madison have all parties to a lease jointly responsible. Should your roommate leave the lease in the middle of the semester, all remaining parties are responsible for his/her share of the rent. Having parents of all roommates co-sign the lease may relieve you of this responsibility.
How do I avoid roommate conflicts?
To help to ensure a satisfying living arrangement, discuss such issues as: smoking, pets, sharing items (food, stereo, bathroom, kitchen), furnishings, cleanliness, and living habits, prior to moving in. The Tenant Resource Center offers roommate agreement forms.
Additionally, use caution when planning to move in with people you only recently met. Your best friend of today may not still be in several months when the new lease begins.
What is subletting? What should I consider when subletting?
Subletting is an arrangement between a current tenant (sublessor), a "substitute" tenant (sublessee), and the property owner/manager. Sublessees take the sublessor's place and reside in the unit, paying either part of or all of the rent. It is important to note that the sublessor (original tenant) is still liable for any damages or unpaid rent.
Things to know when considering subletting:
- Not all property owners/management companies permit subletting. For those who do, ask about and follow their subletting process.
- If you have roommates, be sure you have their support. Your roommates should feel comfortable with the new sublessee; they can also be one of your best marketing strategies.
- Advertise your rental early and often and make sure it is competitively priced. Please note that there are more sublets available in the downtown/campus area than there are interested renters and only about half of advertised sublets are filled. Remember that taking on a small "loss" each month may be better than paying 100% of your rent when you're abroad.
- Ways to promote a sublet:
- Advertise with Campus Area Housing at a cost of $15 for up to 5 months.
- Spread the word via social networking, other advertising websites, and/or e-mail
- Post flyers on/near campus (be sure to ask for approval when using bulletin boards in campus buildings)
- Note: Be on alert for scams when advertising your vacancy, especially with social networking and advertising websites. For more information, view the Sublet Scam Alert on the Campus Area Housing website.
- If you find a sublessee, you and any co- signors on the original lease may still be responsible for timely rent payments and any damages. Damages incurred by a sublessee can be taken from your original security deposit.
- As the current tenant, you may ask for and hold a deposit from your sublessee. Please note that you are required to return their deposit in a timely manner at the conclusion of their stay.
- Complete a written sublet agreement with your sublessee. If your property owner does not provide one, an example can be found on the Tenant Resource Center's website.
- Please read more about the legalities and specifics of subletting on the Tenant Resource site
Our area has been a continued target of rental scams. College students looking to find someone to sublet their rental are frequently targeted. Often these inquiries will make vague references to your rental, the grammar and spelling will often be poor, and your e-mail address will not be in the "To:" section. These are e-mails sent to large quantities of people and are often sent by people claiming to be an international student.
It's best to delete these e-mails or stop responding; however, it is important to note that not all international inquiries are scams. If you are uncertain about a request that you receive you can forward it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be glad to give you our feedback. We can verify claims of any connection to the University; whether as a student, visiting scholar, or incoming staff member.
Please read more about sublet scams here. We apologize that this occurs. It is infrequent, but it does happen and it is important for you to be aware of what to look for. When in doubt, please feel free to e-mail us, we are here to help.
What should I do if I've been discriminated against in my search for housing?
If you believe you have been discriminated against or would like to learn more information about your rights, please contact the Fair Housing Council of Greater Madison at 1-877-647-FAIR (3247).