West Virginia University will host a second off-campus Housing Fair for students looking for places to live next year. The fair will be held from noon-3 p.m. on Jan. 31 in Towers’ Blue and Gold Rooms.
Students can meet 30 landlords who own properties in the Downtown, Evansdale and Health Sciences areas of Morgantown. The goal of the housing fair is to show students the different options they have when trying to find housing.
"One of the main reasons for holding the housing fair is to allow students to see the different types of landlords and off-campus living we offer in Morgantown," said Brian Walker, head of WVU off-campus housing.
In the past, students have told Walker they resorted to walking around Morgantown looking for "rent" signs in order to find housing.
"That’s pretty time-consuming and not very efficient. You’re only looking at one type of property, and prices are all over the map in Morgantown," Walker said. "(Now) they can walk into the Blue and Gold Rooms on Saturday… and they can talk to the landlords and see what they have to offer, what price ranges and what different types of properties."
There are plenty of places around Morgantown to live, but not all students know about them. Walker explained many students simply search "Morgantown student rentals" on the Internet when looking for housing, which will only provide eight to 10 options - it is usually the large, corporate-owned properties that have large marketing budgets.
"That’s another reason for the Housing Fair: getting students to understand the different locations around town where students live," Walker said. "Obviously, Sunnyside is our traditional student neighborhood, but we have many other places where students live."
Walker hopes the fair will show students they can find good values in Evansdale and near Health Sciences, not just Downtown.
Landlords will also have giveaways for students who attend. State Farm Insurance will have a table at the fair to talk to students about renter’s insurance and Student Legal Services will be there to answer questions about leases.
Walker advises students, especially first years, not to sign a lease right away. There can be many changes in a student’s life between signing a lease in November or December and the school year starting in August.
"Once you sign a lease, no matter what happens to your financial status or your status as a student, you are locked into the terms of that contract," Walker said. "A lot of times students will want to run out in November and sign a lease that doesn’t begin until six or nine months later. A lot of things can happen to you in (that amount of time)."
Along with attending the Housing Fair, Walker also recommended students check local newspapers’ classifieds for properties.
Walker believes the housing fair will expand students’ knowledge about off-campus housing at WVU.
"I think it will help students figure out what options are out there," Walker said, "I think it broadens their scope more than anything else."