At Clark University, the majority of students live on or very close to campus. While first- and second-year students are required to live on campus and in University-owned housing (unless they meet the criteria to be commuters), juniors, seniors, and graduate students can choose to move off-campus and live in the Main South neighborhood and Worcester community. We understand that part of a student’s growth and development may include gaining experience living in a more independent and autonomous environment like a shared apartment.
Clark University and the City of Worcester have collaborated to foster a healthy and safe environment in the neighborhoods surrounding our campus. Even if a student’s new apartment is only a few steps away from Clark property, moving off-campus means moving into “the city.” Clark University expects students to consider themselves to be, and act, as much a resident of Worcester as they are a student at Clark University. As a member of the Worcester community, students have the additional obligation of knowing — and respecting — the rights, responsibilities, ordinances, and laws that accompany the role of an off-campus student.
Transitioning from University-owned housing to more private living arrangements presents unique challenges. This section provides valuable information about being a good neighbor and responsible renter to students who are, or who are thinking about, living off-campus. Clark University and the local Main South community are equal partners in ensuring a quality living experience for all. Clark students play an integral role in the Main South neighborhood and make a positive impact on the community. Off-campus students are expected to comport themselves according to all local and state laws and live within the expectations outlined in the Code of Student Conduct and The Clark Commitment. Off-campus students who violate any policy or law may be subject to disciplinary action through the conduct system.
Off-Campus Apartment Listings
Our apartment listing service is powered by Jump Off-Campus, and allows for postings to be listed anytime. Listings are viewable online through a map which lets users click on a given property to view details, email the landlord, etc. Postings are priced per month and includes photos. As a landlord, the advantages of this service are extensive: Some of the benefits include:
- No need to visit the RLH Office to post or pay for your listings, all can be done electronically online.
- No checks or cash necessary – pay instantly with your credit card or through your PayPal account – with no fees added.
- No deadlines to remember: Whenever you post begins a 30-day listing. If you want to post for longer, you can select multiple months as well.
- Even when your posting expires, or you rent the unit, your property information, and photos (if applicable) remain in your account. Re-listing them is as simple as logging in and clicking activate.
- Edit your properties on the fly. If you change price, amenities, etc – you just need to log in and make those adjustments.
- These listings appeal to potential tenants – they show the tenants photos of the property and allow them to see the relationship of the property to campus or other rental units. Incoming graduate students who are not familiar with Clark can now figure out housing availability without physically visiting campus.
Undergraduate students entering college for the first time must live on campus for their first four semesters at Clark. Exceptions to this requirement are only made through the Housing Appeal appeals process and are only made if the student will be living with a parent or legal guardian and the primary residence will be within the City of Worcester. Students who transfer into Clark as juniors or seniors are not required to live on campus; those who transfer in as first-years or sophomores must live on campus until junior status is reached. Students reaching junior status in the middle of the year, however, are reminded that their housing contract extends through the academic year, and they are expected to remain on campus for the entire year.
Clark University expects all students to complete their residency requirement. Only students who are eligible to live off campus, or who have successfully appealed their current housing status, should sign a private lease. Signing a lease with an off-campus landlord will not exempt a student from their residency requirement and should only be done when a student is certain that they have completed the required four semesters on campus.
Individual students’ actions, and those of their guests, are judged — partially — by the way off-campus students interact with and relate to neighbors and the local community. Many of the off-campus residences frequented by Clark students are nestled within the vibrant and diverse urban community of Main South. As a result, it is not unusual for student apartments to be located next to or very close to apartments that are home to families and residents who are not affiliated with Clark. Students should understand that our neighborhood is a blended one and not all residents will be accepting and/or tolerant of behavior that might be common in a residence hall or campus environment (e.g., staying up all night, hosting larger gatherings, etc.).
Clark University asks its off-campus students to consider the following suggestions for establishing a considerate and positive relationship with new neighbors:
- Meet your next-door neighbors and say hello. This simple first impression will help establish an immediate relationship with those who live near the apartment. Some students may choose to provide their closest neighbors with a contact number where they can be reached if their neighbors have any concerns, questions, or problems.
- Keep your spaces and property clean. Even as renters, tenants are responsible for basic upkeep in and around their apartment. If driveways, walkways, and other visible spaces are littered with trash and debris, neighbors are sure to notice. This can lead to conflict with your neighbors, landlord, and local authorities.
- Consider informing neighbors of potential gatherings, and be courteous to any needs they may have (e.g., work schedules, children, babies, etc.). Knowing who your neighbors are and how they live can help establish boundaries and expectations about noise, schedules, etc. Upset neighbors have the right to complain about unruly behavior, so any effort to better understand how to live in harmony with them will make for a more positive living experience.
- Park legally. Parking is tight in and around this neighborhood, and all residents are looking to park their vehicles close to their own homes. Those who choose to park illegally or irresponsibly should expect to be towed. Please refer to the “Parking” section to better understand the city’s laws for parking throughout the year.
- Watch and monitor noise. Noise is the single most common complaint and concern for neighbors. Try to keep your guests inside the apartment and end gatherings at a reasonable hour. Keeping music down and windows closed can help you maintain a quieter presence.
As a Worcester resident, students may want to register to receive important health and safety alerts that impact the city. This may include severe weather emergencies, missing person notifications, or unexpected road closures. Students interested in receiving these alerts should visit worcesterma.gov/emergency-communications.
Additionally, during the winter months, off-campus students should check the Worcester Telegram and Gazette at telegram.com to see if a parking ban is in effect, follow @SnowParkingBan on Twitter, or sign up with the City of Worcester (worcesterma.gov/streets/winter-weather/winter-parking) to receive parking ban alerts via text.
Moving into an apartment may require setting up accounts for some basic, and in some cases, optional services like electricity, internet, cable TV, etc. Some local providers to get started:
Worcester City Policies and Ordinances to Know
The City of Worcester has its own regulations concerning noise and expectations related to the volume of any activity originating from a private residence or vehicle; the policy considers excessive or unnecessary noise as a “threat to the health, welfare, safety, and quality of life of the public.” As a result, Worcester has developed and passed strict legislation to govern the ambient noise levels within the city: “No person shall operate any electronic sound reproduction device [radio/MP3 player] so as to create sound which is plainly audible in a public place at a distance of 25 feet or more in any direction from the device or the premises
containing the device, whichever is greater.” Generally, this means that if noise can be heard on the sidewalk outside of your apartment, the Worcester noise ordinance is being violated, and residents are subject to complaint and action by WPD.
In addition, the City of Worcester has established its own set of “courtesy hours”: Loud noises that bother or disturb the ambient quiet between the hours of 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. on any day of the week will not be tolerated and will be subject to a $50 fine and/or the possibility of arrest. Also, no sound emanating from a vehicle (moving or parked) should be audible at a distance of 50 feet from that vehicle.
Living off-campus means understanding how a neighborhood community operates. Because not everyone in the vicinity of a student’s apartment is a Clark student, the noise policies are actually stricter than students would find within the residence halls or University-owned houses. Noise complaints remain the most common issue for our neighbors and our students. Please be careful and respectful of others when considering the amount of noise being generated in your spaces (and time of day).
Parking in the city — especially near or close to a private residence — can be extremely stressful. Many students choosing to live off-campus will continue to pay for an on-campus parking decal to guarantee themselves a parking space. Off-campus students should understand that parking on campus without a decal is a violation of Clark’s parking policy, and may be subject to a fine and/or removal of the vehicle at the student’s expense.
Students who live off-campus and wish to park a car in the neighborhood should follow all posted parking guidelines and restrictions. The Worcester Parking Enforcement Department patrols the neighborhood regularly and will fine and/or tow vehicles parked illegally.
Each year, the city will post notices of that restrict parking on certain streets at specific times for street sweeping. and restrict parking on certain streets at specific times. The city will tow vehicles that are parked in these restricted areas.
During winter months, students should be aware that during heavy snowfall, the city will declare winter parking bans that make parking on certain sides of the street — or parking on the street at all — illegal (depending on the street). Students living off-campus should check the Worcester Telegram and Gazette at telegram.com to see if a parking ban is in effect, follow @SnowParkingBan on Twitter, or sign up with the City of Worcester (worcesterma.gov/streets/winter-weather/winter-parking) to receive parking ban alerts via text.
Some off-campus students might consider dog ownership if permitted by their lease. All dogs must be registered and licensed in the City of Worcester. According to the city ordinance, all dog owners are responsible for keeping their dogs leashed and for cleaning up all waste.
Off-campus residents may consider hosting gatherings at their apartment or property that include the availability and/or consumption of alcohol. Massachusetts, like most states, has a Social Host Liability Law that places any party host at significant risk should anything happen to a guest during or after a gathering at their residence.
When students live on campus, Clark takes responsibility for many of the actions that happen in and around the residence halls and houses. This is one of the reasons why Clark employs resident advisers, community directors, and police officers who make frequent rounds of the property to address any questionable incidents or safety concerns. Students living off-campus, however, assume most of the responsibility associated with what happens in their apartment and under their supervision.
In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the sale, delivery, or furnishing (making available) of alcohol to persons under 21 is prohibited and considered a violation of the law, subject to arrest at an officer’s discretion. In addition, a “social host” may — under certain circumstances — be held liable for injuries caused by guests of any age who, having consumed alcohol at the host’s residence, does harm to themselves or to a third party. A “social host” is defined as any person who provides alcohol to others as an act of hospitality or hosts a gathering that serves or condones the consumption of alcohol.
In Massachusetts, a host who simply allows alcohol to be consumed at their residence may be responsible for the actions of others. If the guest is a minor and the host reasonably knew or should have known that they were allowing an underage person to consume alcohol, the host may also be held responsible.
More likely than not, trash and recycling will need to be properly disposed of according to the City of Worcester’s policies. Waste disposal and recycling were extremely easy when living on campus, but now require adhering to some specific policies and curbside pickup regulations. Students may also be required to purchase Worcester trash bags — an additional cost of living off campus!
For information on how to properly dispose of trash, what goods to recycle, and how those items are picked up from a property, please visit worcesterma.gov/trash-recycling. Landlords should explain this information, but this site includes the pickup schedule, a list of retailers that sell Worcester bags, and information on other trash and recycling initiatives.
Moving Off Campus Things to Consider
It is important to consider a number of factors before beginning an apartment search and signing a lease. Leases are legally binding, requiring a student to live in and/or pay for a particular room or apartment for a fixed period of time. Be prepared:
- Reflect and investigate options. Living on campus provides you with the amenities needed to be a successful student. There are many hidden costs associated with moving off-campus — costs that students in a residence hall don’t have to worry about. These include Wi-Fi, furniture (purchasing/finding a bed, mattress, desk, etc.), 24-hour security, facilities repairs, guarantee of emergency housing should something happen to a room or building, phone, electricity, expanded cable TV, laundry facilities, hot water, and heat. It may seem less expensive to live off campus when factoring in only shared rent costs, but be sure to consider and budget for all the “extras.”
- Review finances and set a budget for all possible costs.
- Talk openly and honestly with potential off-campus roommates or apartment mates. Make sure everyone is ready for the financial commitment.
- Look at a few apartments to get a sense of what might be
- Ask the landlord to provide the Certificate of Occupancy (C/0), showing proof that the rental has met all local, state, and federal housing guidelines.
- Carefully read the lease before signing it. Consult trusted adults, or an attorney if possible, if you have any questions.
Living with a roommate on campus can be an enriching or agonizing experience. Moving off-campus with friends is no exception. Unlike on-campus living arrangements, however, there are usually no options to switch rooms or move out, because the lease financially obligates you to pay a portion of the rent for an extended period of time. Things to discuss with potential roommates include:
- Values concerning alcohol, drug use, smoking, overnight guests (who are not paying rent), etc. What will be “allowed” to happen?
- What are the private and common spaces? Do they have different rules?
- Financial obligations and community/utility bill payments: How will these items be paid, and what are the deadlines for making payments? How will apartment mates hold each other accountable for costs?
- Household chores and how those will be divided: Discuss critical cleanliness issues like bathrooms, kitchens, trash disposal, recycling containers, etc. Who is going to buy cleaning products, and what will the cleaning rotation look like? How is food shared in common spaces? What are deal-breakers regarding sharing personal items?
- Is there an expectation that the apartment will be a place for studying? What “rules” will be established for the space (quiet hours, guests, messages, cleaning, etc.)?
The best way to think about a lease is as a contract that specifies what the tenant and landlord agree to do for and provide each other. A lease outlines specific responsibilities and obligations of both the owner and tenant(s) of a particular house or apartment and details the rules by which landlords and tenants agree to live. Once signed, it also details what landlords and tenants cannot do. Should there be a legal dispute with a landlord, the courts will generally hold tenants to everything they agreed to by signing the lease. In general, landlords will not be in favor of “breaking” a lease and allowing tenants to leave before the agreed-upon date.
In Massachusetts, all tenants and landlords are subject to laws and regulations that create a safe and respectful living environment for those who choose to rent property. In general, tenants have the following basic rights:
- The right to deny the landlord entry to their apartment unless the landlord gives notice and is inspecting the premises, making repairs, or showing the apartment to prospective renters, or if permitted by a court order.
- The right against retaliation from a landlord following a tenant’s decision to make a formal complaint.
- The right to a habitable environment that includes working water, heat, safe kitchens, a pest-free environment, safe structural elements, and reasonable snow removal.
For a complete list of tenant rights and landlord responsibilities, visit https://www.mass.gov/info-details/tenant-rights.
College students renting an off-campus apartment or house (as well as living in on-campus residence halls) should strongly consider purchasing renter’s insurance to protect their personal property in the event of damage, fire, destruction, or theft. Students’ parents’ homeowner’s insurance coverage may extend to a college residence hall, but most often such coverage will not apply when a student signs a lease to live off-campus.
A landlord’s insurance will not cover a tenant’s personal property in the event that it is stolen or damaged as a result of a fire, flood, theft, or other unexpected circumstance. Without personal renter’s insurance, students will be expected to cover the replacement and/or repair costs of all personal items.
Renter’s insurance is relatively affordable and can average between $15 and $30 per month, depending on the location and size of the rental unit combined with the policyholder’s personal possessions. Students should consult their parents/guardians or a local insurance agent to discuss renter’s insurance before taking residence in their new apartment.
It is always a good idea to note any existing damage and necessary repairs on the lease before signing. Should a student move in and see issues or items that are new or remain unaddressed since the lease signing, they should make a note of the problems, take photos, and bring them to the immediate attention of the landlord, preferably in writing.
It is the legal obligation of a tenant to give a landlord notice of their intent to leave. This is usually done at or around the time the lease is about to expire, but renters should pay special attention to the lease language to see if there are particular deadlines for when communication with a landlord about leaving a space may be due (some leases require three months’ notice). Taking the initiative to communicate with a landlord regarding staying or leaving an apartment is beneficial.
This notice to move out should include the names of all other persons on the lease, the address of the unit currently occupied, the date anticipated to vacate the apartment, and a forwarding address in case the landlord needs to send a security deposit or contact anyone for any other reason.
Rental apartments should be cleaned appropriately and according to whatever condition indicated on the lease. Do not leave behind large pieces of furniture or place those items in the yard or on the sidewalk. This can lead to hefty fines and sometimes forfeiting rights to the security deposit. Whenever possible, have the landlord present when vacating the apartment so the final inspection can be done together. This allows for the transfer of keys, return of the security deposit (assuming everything is okay with the property), and settlement of the termination of the lease.