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Student Involvement

Living Off-Campus

Resources on signing a lease, student housing communities, being a good neighbor and making the most of your off-campus living experience.

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Fresno State Partners with

Fresno State has partnered with to provide a central location for students to view rental listings and roommate postings. CLICK HERE to visit Fresno State's Rent College Pads website.

College Living

Housing is an important part of your college experience. Fresno State encourages students to be mindful when signing a lease and choosing renter's insurance.

Rental agreements:  Be sure to get a written rental agreement or lease, even if the arrangement is only month-to-month. The agreement should spell out all the normal features of the rental arrangement, including the services for which tenants and roommates are responsible.

Roommates: Make certain everyone who will be living with you signs the rental agreement so you’re not left as the only one responsible to the landlord. Work out an agreement on who will handle the billing for phone, utilities, rent, groceries, etc., and who can contribute what (monetary or otherwise) to the house or apartment supplies.

Bills (cable, internet, utilities): Make sure that everyone shares the bills equally and that no one person is responsible for everything.

Phone:  Each roommate should have their own plan for phone charges (either cell phone or personal long distance calling card) and separate billing so that one person doesn’t get stuck trying to collect an enormous bill and suffer credit problems as a result.

Deposits/Damages: Confirm the purpose of any advance deposits are described in writing in the rental agreement. Also, provide the landlord with an inspection report of the premises before moving in so you have a record of problems in case you are charged for them later. Keep a copy of this report for your records and take pictures of any damages.

Leases are binding contracts between the landlord and the tenant. The terms of the lease should be read carefully before the lease is signed. Students are advised to watch specifically for the following items:

  • Terms of the lease. (How many months is the tenant required to pay rent?) The standard length of a lease is typically six, nine or twelve months.
  • The amount of the damage deposit and conditions for refund of the deposit. A damage deposit is a monetary deposit collected by the landlord/leasing agent from the lessee to financially protect the landlord/leasing agent against property damage caused by the lessee. When the lessee vacates the rental unit, damage to the unit is assessed and repair fees are deducted from the damage deposit. If no property damages are identified, the entire amount of the damage deposit is typically returned to the lessee. Damage deposits are typically equal to or less than one month's rent.
  • Rental rate. (What does this rate include? Who is responsible for paying for the gas/electricity, water, garbage pick-up, etc.?) Some rental agencies/landlords require the first and last months rent at the time the house or apartment is initially rented.
  • Rental payment due date.
  • Who handles repairs? (Example - If the sink is clogged, who fixes this and who pays for the repair service?)

Students should make a list of all the permanent damages to the rental unit/furniture before moving in to avoid being charged for the damages. A dated and signed copy of the list should be given to the landlord, and the student should retain a copy. Students should also keep a copy of the lease agreement.

Other factors that may be considered before signing the lease are:

  • Proximity to public transportation service (buses)
  • Proximity to grocery stores, Laundromat, and bank

If an international student has concerns regarding the terms of the lease, he/she should not sign the lease until all terms are agreed to.

Important: Read the fine print and be aware of what the landlord expects of you.

Accuracy: Make sure the lease accurately reflects the terms and dates of the lease as agreed upon by you and your landlord. It is also helpful to know what happens once the lease is up. Be sure to know if you have the option to renew, or does the lease change to a month-by-month agreement? Along the same lines, know what the lease says about termination. What events give the landlord the right to evict you, and what events might allow you to get out of your lease early if necessary?

Security Deposit: The purpose of the deposit is to ensure that rent is paid on time, and to cover unusual repairs that may be needed when a renter moves out due to damage caused by the renter. Make sure you take pictures of things you didn’t do before moving in.

Utilities: It is important to know which utilities you are expected to pay for, and to have those utility bills put in your name when you move into a new residence.

Monthly Rents: Make sure your lease states the monthly rent amount and what day the rent is due each month. It also important to have a clear understanding of what happens if you pay your rent late and if you are given a grace period for paying. Also, some landlords will put a provision in the lease that provides for automatic rent increases.

Renter Insurance: Some leases require a tenant to have renter's insurance, while others do not. Even if your landlord does not require this insurance, it is wise to invest in some insurance for the property in your rented space. Landlords are not responsible for damage or theft of your property and possessions.

Maintenance and repairs: Another issue to educate yourself on before signing the lease is maintenance. What repairs or maintenance are you, as the tenant, responsible for? What is the process for requesting maintenance or repairs from your landlord or rental agency? How long can you expect it to take for repairs to be made?

Students who rent apartments or houses may want to purchase renter's insurance to cover the loss of their valuable personal property should it become damaged or stolen.

A renters policy can also provide liability coverage, which may help prevent you from paying out of pocket if you are found legally responsible for someone else's injuries or accidental damage to their property (including your landlord's).

Students should consult an online directory under "Renter's Insurance" for a listing of insurance companies and agents. 

After Finding a Place to Live

Now that you have a place to live, get set up with utilities and any other home services needed. Go through your options with a thorough eye and do research before commiting to a plan.

Find Internet services in your area HERE

Find Cable TV services in your area HERE

Moving to the Neighborhood

Many students choose to live off campus during their years at Fresno State. The resources below will help you be a good neighbor and make the most of your off campus living experience.

Renters Insurance: If you haven’t already done it’s always a good time to arrange renters’ insurance for your personal possessions. Keep in mind that in the case of a fire or water damage etc., your landlord has insured only the buildings. You need Renters Insurance to cover your possessions.

Tell your landlord: If you’re leaving town for longer than a week, you might want to tell your landlord. Make sure your landlord knows how to contact you should he/she need to do so. Let your landlord know if you have asked someone else to stop by to feed the fish, water the plants, collect the mail etc.

Ask a Friend to Help: Ask a friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your house/ apartment while you’re away. Give this person a key so that he or she can bring your mail in, feed your cat, water your plants.

Don’t Tip Off Criminals on Social Media/Internet: In a world where it seems everyone is blabbing about their business on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, it’s important to stop and think: who exactly is reading this stuff? If you have a land phone, be careful what you say on your answering machine or voice mail too. Callers don’t need to know that you’re not home — they just need to know that you can’t come to the phone right now.

Curtains Closed — or Open? Leave your curtains exactly as you usually keep them when you’re home, since noticeable changes could hint that you’re not around anymore — especially if your curtains are uncharacteristically left closed for two weeks. Move expensive items, like jewelry or cash, out of plain sight if they’re visible from the window.

The Lights Are On But No One’s Home: Don’t leave your lights on at home throughout your entire vacation in an effort to make it look like someone is in the house. Your electric bill could end up more costly than your rent. Plus, house lights blazing throughout the night might look a bit odd.  Instead, purchase a light switch timer that can turn your lights on and off automatically according to a programmed schedule.

Stop Your Mail:  Either place a “stop” order on mail and or arrange to have a friend or neighbor pick up your mail while you’re away. Otherwise, a week’s worth of letters piled in your mailbox could signal to criminals that you’re out of town. Mail left unclaimed at your home will result in new mail being “Returned to Sender”. It’s easy to put your mail on hold; that’s why there’s no excuse not to do this. Just go to the United States Postal Service website and you can place a “stop or hold” order in a matter of minutes.

Pull the Plug: Unplug your television, computer, toaster oven and other appliances to protect them from power surges. Do this to save power as well. Many appliances use power even when they’re turned off.

Remove Your Spare Key: That plastic rock isn’t fooling anyone. If criminal figures out you’re away on vacation, it’s likely that he or she will check your porch for a spare key. So reach under the mat, into the mailbox, above the door frame or into the flowerpot and remove your spare key before you leave for break.

You’re out on your own and away from family or University authority...but you need to consider some other people now: your new neighbors! Keep in mind that your neighbors may not be fellow college students and they want to keep their neighborhood nice, with your help.

Introduce yourself: Become a part of the neighborhood and let your neighbors know they are welcome to talk with you if they have a question or concern.

Noise and parties: Remember, most of your neighbors need to get up early to go to work or school, or they may be elderly. Late night parties or loud music won’t win you any friends, and it may get you a visit from the police. If you do have a party, let the neighbors know a few days ahead of time, keep it contained in your house, and keep the noise down. Be aware that Fresno has a noise ordinance in effect from 10:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m., which is 
enforced by the police. You should also make sure your guests don’t take your neighbors’ usual parking spaces or leave trash on the streets and in the neighborhood.

Trash and yard care: If you are living in a house, it is your responsibility to keep your yard from becoming the neighborhood eyesore. Do not let grass and weeds become unmanageable. The City and County of Fresno enforces ordinances regarding unsafe, unsightly or unsanitary conditions. Problems to watch out for include rubbish in yards, rubbish along alley, weeds, accumulation of junk, misuse of city containers and junk cars.

Fresno State Numbers

Fresno State (main number): 559.278.4240
Police Department: 559.278.8400
Dean of Students Office: 559.278.2541
Student Involvement Center: 559.278.2741

Community Numbers

Animal Shelters 
Animal Rescue of Fresno: 559.225.5715 
Central California SPCA: 559.233.7722
Valley Animal Center: 559.233.8690 

City of Fresno (Municipal Offices): 559.621.2489

City of Clovis: 559.324.2060

Fire Department 
Fresno Fire Department: 559.621.4199
Clovis Fire Department: 559.324.2200

Police Department
Fresno Police Department: 559.621.7000
Clovis Police Department: 559.324.2800

Department of Motor Vehicles: 800.777.0133 

PG&E (Utilities):  800.743.5000

Comcast: 800.266.2278

Who to Contact About Housing Issues

For more information on code enforcement, click here. To report a code violation, call 559.621.8400 or use this online form.

Staff who speak languages other than English are available upon request. Housing issues can also be reported by downloading the FresGo smartphone app. Click "new request," then "code enforcement issues," then choose the "other" option under "code enforcement problem."

Information from those who report issues is confidential but required to process a case. Code enforcement is at 2600 Fresno St., third floor, room 3076, Fresno.

Residents in Fresno County should contact the Department of Public Health for housing complaints, located at 1221 Fulton Mall. Contact them at 559.600.3200 or through their webpage here.

Tenants Together, a statewide nonprofit renters' rights organization. Contact: or 415.495.8100.

Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries, faith-based nonprofit serving refugees, located at 1940 N. Fresno St. in Fresno. Contact: 559.487.1500.

Central California Legal Services, free legal assistance for low-income residents, located at 2115 Kern St., Suite 1 in Fresno. Contact:, legal advice at 559.570.1200 or toll free 800.675.8001.

California Apartment Association, a trade group providing education and customer service to apartment owners, managers, investors, developers and suppliers of apartment communities. Contact: or 559.221.2533.