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HOUSING SPECIAL: Students face plethora of off-Grounds options

Aside from midterms, it's next year's housing that seems to loom over many University students' heads first semester.

If after jumping the first hurdle of decision-making you opt to look for housing off Grounds, you're left with a full plate of choices based, in part, on personal preferences, availability and budget.

When weighing options associated with off-Grounds housing, students look at several different factors.

"The size of the house, location and number of bedrooms factored into the decision," third-year College student Allison Correll said.

A plethora of Charlottesville rental companies cater to University students, providing housing in the areas immediately surrounding the University, particularly, Jefferson Park Avenue, Rugby Road and the Corner districts.

Students can research rental offerings at www.offgroundshousing.com, www.universityoffgrounds.com, as well as check updated postings located outside Newcomb Dining Hall.

Housing offerings range from small efficiencies and one-bedroom apartments, larger four to six person apartments and multiple bedroom houses.

Popular rental agencies include, among others, CBS Rentals, Wade Apartments, Management Services Corporation, Woodard Properties and Veliky, LC rentals.

The approximate cost of monthly rent in the Charlottesville area ranges from around $300 for the smaller, one room apartments up to around $4,000 for a large house.

Despite high costs, competition for housing remains very high throughout the area.

"It's pretty competitive for large bedroom houses," said Joy Waring, property manager for Woodard Properties.

CBS Rentals suggests researching and early lease-signing to secure a choice selection.

"We'll probably be full in the next week or so," CBS Rentals Property Manager Paige Shifflett said Oct. 14. The one-bedroom efficiencies and smaller apartments are the exception to this rule, Shifflett added.

October is by far the most popular month for students to sign leases in Charlottesville, according to property managers with various companies.

"After October the selections are very slim," Waring said.

Woodard and MSC began their lease signing process Oct. 11 and Wade began Oct. 12. CBS and Veliky started to sign new leases around Oct. 1.

Current residents, however, had to complete resigning leases before the new lease signing began.

All of the companies use a first-come, first-serve policy, but different companies implement this rule in various ways.

CBS asks students to fill out a request form listing their top four choices. The forms are time-stamped and dated. CBS then assigns apartments based on preference as students resign or notify them of their evacuation at the end of the leasing term.

"We really try hard to help them find somewhere they'll be happy," Shifflett said.

It is often difficult because of various circumstances, however, to give students their first choice, she added.

Other companies start their leasing process and sign leases based on availability at the actual time of signing.

Many companies, including Wade, see people spending the night outside to secure their chances of renting their apartment of choice.

"It was a large turnout," Wade Apartments Leasing Agent Felicia Alsop said. "We were pleased."

Even though each company has a different leasing process, most require a lease request form or leasing application.

The agencies usually request a fee of $10 to $20 when submitting the application.

Adding to the cost of renting an apartment, renters are required to pay a security deposit which usually is the equivalent, or a portion of, one month's rent.

Many student renters opt to avoid the hassle of high dollar security deposits and application fees and instead re-sign leases.

One CBS apartment building only had two units in which the tenants decided to leave the complex for next year, Shifflett said.

In addition to the various big-name rental agencies, private owners who rent to students are sprinkled throughout the area as well.

"We really looked into private owners so that we could have a lower rent," Correll said.

Correll, who now lives in a house rented through an agency, said she favors private owners over rental agencies because of the preferential treatment.

"Being that he only has two houses to look after, he can really give us the special attention needed," she said.

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