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Phoenix 101: Tips and Tricks for Securing Off-Campus Housing

Courtesy of Lainey O'BoyleRoommates Mary Ann Shurilla and Lainey O'Boyle

As sophomores hunt to find off-campus housing, many students said the lack of resources from Loyola was disappointing and often made the apartment search more difficult. Loyola recommends students use the website Places4Students, but students said it was “clunky” and hard to navigate. 

Second years Lainey O’Boyle and Mary-Ann Shurilla are in their final stages of apartment hunting, hoping to move into a Rogers Park three-bedroom with two other roommates for the next academic year.

O’Boyle, studying cognitive behavioral neuroscience, said she tried using Loyola’s resource Places4Students, but it was “jumbled” and “outdated.” With no help from the university, O’Boyle and Shurilla had more success using websites like Apartments.com or Zillow to find available places.

“If they [Loyola] had offered just more resources and access to those resources it would have been more helpful,” O’Boyle, 20, said. “If they had a how to live off campus seminar or something like that.” 

Mary Kessuvan, student office assistant with the Department of Residence Life, said the department doesn’t manage off-campus housing, in an email to The Phoenix. She said that students can utilize Lakeside Management — a real estate business owned and operated by Loyola — that has vacant apartments and suggested students visit the Off-Campus Student Life website.

O’Boyle said she and her roommates made sure to keep an eye out for structural issues in the building – such as cracks in the ceiling or messy grout in the bathroom. 

For inspection records, students can search the apartment address on the City of Chicago Building Department Records website. After the search, current and previous inspection records are displayed, broken down by area (such as elevator issues or smoke alarms) that show what failed and if it was fixed.

Students can also search the Scofflaw Problem Landlord List, which provides information on landlords cited for “failing to provide tenants with basic services and protections.”

Shurilla said she made sure to keep communicating with landlords and ask the questions she felt were important. She asked about callboxes, safety, air conditioning and in-unit laundry. 

“I was kind of apprehensive going into it, but in all seriousness it’s where you’re going to be living so it’s really important to be upfront with your questions,” Shurilla, 19, said. 

William Bazzone, a sophomore studying journalism, began looking for places in February and found a studio apartment in Rogers Park. He said help from Loyola was “lacking” and wasn’t aware of the website, Places4Students, that Loyola recommends. 

“It’s paramount that they [Loyola] give students a lot of help because, even back from February until now, a lot of availability on these places hasn’t changed and you just kind of wait and wait and see what happens,” Bazzone said. 

While touring, he said his parents helped him make sure to ask the right questions to ensure the apartment was a good fit. 

Shurilla and O’Boyle had weekly meetings with their roommates to stay on the same page, which they said made the process easier. 

Overall, the students emphasized keeping steady communication with landlords to make sure their apartment needs were met.

“Landlords are super eager to help, they’re also trying really hard to sell the place so it can be very easy to fall into the eagerness and fall into the excitement,” O’Boyle said. “Keep a level head at all times and not fall into the excitement of your first apartment.”

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