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Guide to Off-Campus Living

Table of Contents

Being Part of a Neighborhood

You will find that living off-campus is a very different kind of experience from living in a University residence hall. Unlike the residence halls, the neighborhoods surrounding Brown are full of people whose lifestyles, schedules, and living arrangements may vary greatly from yours. This encounter with diversity can be enjoyable if you adapt your lifestyle to the community you have entered and adjust to its priorities. For example, just as you would not appreciate your neighbors’ making excessive noise while you study for exams, they will not appreciate your making excessive noise while living in the neighborhood.

As a Brown University student, you are governed by the Brown University Standards of Student Conduct. Students have been placed under disciplinary sanction resulting from their wrongful conduct while in their off-campus housing. Engaging in disruptive behavior is the violation students are most commonly charged with in off-campus housing; for example, hosting loud and overcrowded parties.

Your interactions with your neighbors should be guided by the Principles of the Brown University Community, which state, “The University expects that students will not indulge in behavior that endangers their own sustained effectiveness or that has serious ramifications for the safety, welfare, and academic well-being of themselves and others.”

Good communication between you and your neighbors will be the best tool for preventing conflicts. The key is mutual respect and cooperation.

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Off-Campus Permission for Undergraduates

In order to live off-campus, you must first receive permission to do so. All current undergraduate students wishing to live off-campus must complete and submit an application for off-campus permission to the Office of Residential Life in Wayland House by the given deadline.

Important Facts About Off-Campus Permission

  • It is not granted automatically
  • It is granted for one academic year at a time
  • Priority is given to next year’s rising seniors whose applications are received by the deadline
  • Other applications received by the deadline are generally processed in order of semester levels
  • Formal acceptance of off-campus permission by a student is final and binding for the next full academic year

All students who have received permission to live off-campus must view the “Off-Campus Living Video”.

The Office of Residential Life establishes a time-frame in which to apply for Off-Campus Permission. Please note that the schedules change from year to year.

For more information on obtaining off-campus permission, click here

Students living off-campus are assessed a non-resident fee. For more information on the non-resident fee, click here.

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Brown-Owned Off-Campus Housing

The Office of Auxiliary Housing rents and manages approximately 150 residential housing units ranging in size from efficiency/one bedroom to multi-bedroom apartments and houses. These living units surround the campus and occupy an area that extends to Lloyd Avenue on the north, Brown Street to the west, Power Street to the south, and Hope Street to the east. They provide housing for approximately 175 graduate, medical, and undergraduate students.

The typical rental unit in a Brown-owned off-campus building includes utilities such as heat, hot water, gas, and electricity. Telephone service, cable television service, internet access, and the wiring for these services are available through private providers. The Office of Auxiliary Housing has a limited number of parking spaces available to its tenants for a monthly fee in addition to rent. Contact Kathleen Renzi for parking information.

The exact number of housing units that will be available for the lease period concurrent with a given academic year is not known until the end of the January. Roughly 30 to 50 housing units are made available each lease period for currently-enrolled graduate, medical, and undergraduate students.

Applying

Undergraduate students

In order to rent Brown-owned housing, undergraduates must have off-campus permission from the Office of Residential Life.

RENTAL AGREEMENTS

Once a living unit is selected, a security deposit equal to one month’s rent must be paid within 10 days in order to secure the living unit. A University rental agreement is then prepared and presented to all tenants for signature by a given deadline.

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Finding an Apartment

START EARLY! You are most likely to find housing that suits your taste, fills your needs, and fits your budget if you allow plenty of time for your apartment search.

Be aware that Providence zoning prohibits more than four unrelated persons from living in the same apartment or single-family house. Violating city zoning laws could result in termination of lease or eviction.

EXPLORE ALL YOUR OPTIONS, which include:

  • Brown-Owned Off-Campus Housing, for which you must have off-campus permission from Residential Life if you are an undergraduate
  • The Off-Campus Housing Service provides resources including current listings of privately owned, furnished,and unfurnished rooms, apartments, houses for rent, sublets, sabbaticals, and shared accommodations in Providence and the surrounding area. If you have accommodations you want to share, you can search for a roommate by posting a listing with the service. The listings are available on the Auxiliary Housing website at Off-Campus Housing Listing.

The Off-Campus Housing Service does NOT

  • Make reservations
  • Make appointments
  • Make rental commitments
  • Participate in any negotiations with private landlords

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Factors to Consider When Choosing Accommodations

Landlord

A landlord’s honesty and responsiveness can be major factors in how satisfied you are with an apartment. Find out as much as possible about your potential landlord from:

  • Other students living off campus
  • Landlord review surveys that are compiled at the Office of Auxiliary Housing. (A Brown University ID must be presented in order to review these surveys.) By Rhode Island law, landlords must provide window coverings in all bedrooms and bathroom windows, a stove and refrigerator hookup, sink and at least two means of egress. Your lease will indicate whether you or the landlord are responsible for clearing snow from walks and driveways, cutting grass, raking leaves, preparing trash, etc. A clear definition of responsibility is important and should be defined in writing.

In order to list a rental unit with the Off-Campus Housing Service, all landlords must complete and sign an application that attests to the “unit meeting all applicable housing and municipal government codes and requirements”.

Safety and Security

To guarantee your safety, certain considerations should be made before renting any apartment. These include:

  • At least two legal means of egress in case of fire or emergency. There are clear guidelines defining a legal egress (for example, trap doors in closets do not count)
  • Accessible and working fire escapes
  • Electrical wiring that is up to code. Exposed wiring and overloaded outlets or extension cords suggest larger problems. Outlets near water sources must have a GFI outlet.
  • Operable smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, certified fire extinguishers, appliances, and door buzzers.
  • Secure, functioning locks on all exterior doors and windows, and dead bolt locks on apartment doors. Building doors should fall shut by their own weight and self-lock.
  • Security screens or metal grates on windows accessible from the ground. Later sections of this guide discuss personal and fire safety at greater length. For more information on codes and enforcement, call the Department of Inspection and Standards at 401-421-7740.

Parking

IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU ARRANGE FOR OFF-STREET PARKING IF YOU HAVE A CAR, BECAUSE:

  • The City of Providence traffic regulations prohibit parking on city streets for more than two hours between 1 A.M. and 7 A.M.
  • The fine for violating this ordinance is $15; however, if not paid with 14 days, court charges are added to fines and may considerably raise the cost of a ticket.
  • Parking is prohibited on unpaved surfaces (sidewalks/backyards) and other designated no-parking areas. On-street parking is also prohibited during snow bans to facilitate snow removal.

If your rent includes parking, be sure that fact is written in your lease.

Cost

Make a realistic budget that includes the cost of:

  • heat
  • hot water
  • gas
  • electricity
  • parking
  • phone, internet, & cable TV services

Rental costs vary depending on

  • the apartment’s size
  • the apartment’s physical condition
  • the apartment’s location/proximity to campus
  • whether utilities, if any, are included
  • whether furnishings and appliances, if any, are included
  • whether parking is included

Stay within your budget!

Location

Consider the apartment’s proximity to:

  • campus
  • grocery stores
  • laundry facilities
  • public transportation (for schedules & routes see RIPTA's web site).

Housemates

Your choice of a housemate/s is very important in determining how comfortable and relaxing your living situation will be. Providence restricts the number of unrelated persons living together in a single dwelling unit to four people. Be sure to discuss the following with prospective housemates honestly and thoroughly, clarifying what you can and cannot tolerate and defining your expectations as specifically as possible:

  • cooking
  • food sharing
  • cleanliness
  • noise levels
  • study habits
  • guests
  • smoking
  • responsibilities incurred if one party leaves before the lease expires (remaining tenants may be legally responsible for that person’s portion of the rent and other shared expenses)

Neighborhood

The nature of your prospective neighborhood may have a major impact on your daily life. Ask yourself these questions about the neighborhood when considering an apartment:

  • Is it well-populated or isolated? How will this affect me?
  • Is it safe? How will I successfully cope with the level of safety?
  • Is it noisy? How will that noise level affect me?
  • Does my renting there have a positive or negative impact on the neighborhood structure?
  • Will my lifestyle be in conflict or accord with community norms?

FOR INFORMATION ON PROVIDENCE NEIGHBORHOODS, PLEASE VISIT www.providenceri.com

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Establishing Tenant/Landlord Relationships

Rental Agreements

A rental agreement is defined as a written or oral agreement, containing valid rules and regulations, as well as any terms required by law concerning the use and occupancy of a dwelling unit and premises.

Important Facts

 

  • The only condition that is required to establish a landlord-tenant relationship between two people is that one person pay for the use of living space that belongs to the other person.
  • An agreement to rent may be oral and/or written.
  • An oral rental agreement is typically a month-to-month agreement. Month-to-month agreements provide a less secure means of renting for these reasons:
    • your landlord needs to give you only 30 days notice to vacate.
    • your landlord can raise your rent periodically.
    • A month-to-month rental agreement may suit your needs best when you need a place for just the summer or just the academic year.
  • A written rental agreement, also called a lease, provides you with the security of
    • a fixed amount of rent during the period covered by the lease.
    • a permanent, legally-binding record of the terms and responsibilities of the agreement.
    • a safeguard against eviction, unless you violate the agreement.

An agreement to rent may include any term or condition not prohibited by law. Read your lease carefully to ensure that it does not contain terms or conditions which are unacceptable to you. Once a lease is signed, you are legally bound by it. For a copy of the State of Rhode Island Landlord/Tenant Handbook click here. This handbook is designed to be used as a general reference guide concerning landlord-tenant relationships and responsibilities based on the Rhode Island General Law (RIGL) Chapter 34-18, entitled the “Residential Landlord Tenant Act.

” Note: The copy of this handbook is subject to changes/updates made by The Statewide Planning Program of Rhode Island, which created this handbook. The copy available through this website was the most recent copy available at the time this site was created. To obtain any possible newer copy of this handbook, please contact Darlene Price at (401) 450-1358 or e-mail her at dprice@rihousing.com.

Reading and Signing Leases

SPECIAL NOTE: IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU READ YOUR LEASE AND UNDERSTAND WHAT IT REQUIRES OF YOU BEFORE YOU SIGN IT. Be SURE that you, and any roommates you have, understand everything that the conditions of the lease will require of you. If in doubt about what a term or condition in your lease means, ask:

  • the landlord/rental agent to clearly explain it.
  • one of the resources listed in the appendix to this guide that provides advice on leases.

A lease, which is a written rental agreement, should clearly state all the terms and conditions that apply to the tenant(s) who will occupy the living unit being rented. A lease should contain the following:

  • The names of all tenants (also called “lessees”)
  • The name, telephone number and address of the landlord (lessor)
  • The address of the living unit being rented and a description
  • The rental term: the period for which the living unit is being rented, including the dates of commencement and termination
  • The rental rate: how much rent is paid per month, including when, where and to whom it is paid
  • The dollar amount of the security deposit, including the conditions for refunding it as regulated by RI law
  • Who is responsible for paying the utilities
  • Who is responsible for paying for repairs and maintenance
  • A current list of the appliances and any furnishings provided
  • Whether subletting is allowed, and under what terms and conditions
  • Under what conditions, and with how much prior notice, the landlord may enter the living unit
  • Pet clauses
  • Trash and snow removal and recycling requirements
  • If parking is included in rental agreement, or if it is available separately

Inspect Before You Sign

Before signing a lease, it is EXTREMELY WISE to fully inspect the apartment, preferably with the landlord or rental agent present.

Before finalizing your decision to rent, and prior to moving in, you should perform an inspection to note any deficiencies for which you do not want to be held liable or you wish repaired by the landlord. A sample Move In Report form is available in the forms section of the Office of Auxiliary Housing website to assist you. If, after inspecting the apartment, the landlord does not consent, in writing, to make any necessary repairs you request by a specified date, it would be wise to reconsider renting the apartment.

Group Rentals

BE SURE EACH TENANT SIGNS THE LEASE

Each person who signs a lease remains responsible for abiding by its terms and conditions, regardless of whether s/he still lives in the apartment/house.

If your lease states that tenants have “joint and severable liability,” then it permits the landlord to take legal action against each tenant separately or against them jointly, if they do not comply with the conditions and terms of the lease. In other words, if you and your two roommates have “joint and severable liability,” and one of you moves out three months before the lease is up and doesn’t pay his/her share of the rent for those months, the landlord may take action to hold each one of you individually responsible for that rent, or to hold any two or more of you as a group responsible.

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Responsibilities and Rights of the Landlord and Tenant

Rent

RENT is:

  • Payment of an amount set by a rental contract in return for the right to occupy or use another’s property.
  • Due, typically, on or before the first day of each month.

If you do not pay your rent by the due date, you may be charged late fees after a specified period. If any part of your rent is 15 or more days late, your landlord may send a written notice that:

  • specifies the amount overdue and demands its payment
  • notifies you that if the rent due is not paid within five days, your rental agreement is terminated.

If you do not then pay the rent due within five days, your landlord can begin taking action to evict you.

An escalator clause in a lease allows a landlord to charge additional rent for specified expenses (usually property taxes or utility charges), if they increase:

  • over a stated period
  • above a predetermined unit cost

Utilities

  • Your lease should state who is responsible for paying for gas, heat, electricity or water; you or your landlord.
  • If not stated in the lease, payment for utilities is your landlord’s responsibility.
  • Your landlord may not turn off your heat, electricity, or gas at any time during your occupancy except when necessary for repair work.

Security Deposits

 

  • Can be required by your landlord at the beginning of a new rental term
  • Cannot exceed one month’s rent
  • Must, by law, be returned to you no more than 20 days after you move out, minus any deductions allowed by law, provided that you
    • return the key(s) to the living unit
    • provide a forwarding address

Your landlord must provide you with an itemized list of any deductions withheld from your security deposit for:

  • Unpaid rent.
  • Physical damages other than ordinary wear and tear.

This list should accompany the balance of the security deposit being returned to you.

Deposits other than a security deposit may be required by your landlord, such as

  • a key deposit.

For more information on security deposits, refer to the State of Rhode Island Landlord-Tenant Handbook (click here).

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Care and Use of Premises

Possession

Your landlord must provide you with premises that are in a fit and habitable condition at the start of the lease term. You must leave the premises in the same condition, normal wear and tear excepted, when you move out.

Moving In

On moving in, promptly complete a detailed list of any problems you find with the property (a Move In Report) if you have not already done so. This record of existing conditions of the premises ensures that you will not be held liable for them. Submit a copy of the report to your landlord. When you move out, this record will help prevent disputes about the condition of the premises for which you could be liable. A sample Move In Report form is available in the forms section of this website. Should you discover a necessary repair after you have signed a lease and moved in, and your landlord does not respond to your request to repair it, the Building Inspectors Department and the Division of Code Enforcement of the City of Providence can order repairs of defects and give landlords deadlines for doing so. You will find contact information for those offices and many other useful sources of information at the end of this guide.

Repairs and Maintenance

Your landlord is responsible for:

 

  • making major repairs, in most cases
  • maintaining the premises to comply with all applicable building and minimum housing codes, health and safety requirements, which include:
    • continuous hot and cold running water.
    • a minimum temperature of 67 degrees Fahrenheit, if the landlord is responsible for providing heat between October and May.
    • Repairing and maintaining any portion of the premises which remain under his/her control, including any portion of the building which is not expressly leased to any tenants (including hallways, basements, stairways, fire exits, and exterior areas that are part of the property).
    • Extermination of any vermin in common areas, though you may be held responsible if your actions have caused a living unit to become infested with vermin.

You are responsible for:

  • Repairs required as a result of negligence or purposeful destruction on your part or on the part of your guests
  • Maintaining the premises at an acceptable level of cleanliness

Occupancy

The City of Providence zoning ordinance states that no more than four unrelated persons may occupy any living unit.

Trash and Recycling

Recycling is mandatory in the City of Providence. Your landlord is responsible for providing trash receptacles with covers that meet city code requirements. You are responsible for:

  • separating recycling from trash.
  • collecting and removing trash from your building to a designated site/curb side.
  • placing your recycling receptacle at a designated site/curb side.
  • placing your recycling and trash out after dark on the night before pick up.
  • removing empty containers from the curb side by dark on trash day. Trash and recycling are collected on the same day, which on the East Side is Monday.

For RECYCLING INFORMATION, visit the RI Resource Recovery Corporation website. The Department of Public Works (467-7950) can provide the trash pick-up schedule for your area.

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General Provisions

Right of Entry

Your landlord must give you 48-hours notice of any intent to enter your living space. You may not unreasonably withhold consent for him/her to enter for such legitimate purposes as

  • Inspections
  • Repairs
  • Showing the unit to potential tenants or buyers

Your landlord may enter without your consent in an emergency or after seven days of your continuous absence, if entry is reasonably necessary for the protection of the property.

Subleasing

Your lease should contain a clearly-stated agreement about subleasing: whether it is permissible at all and, if so, under what conditions.

If you sublease your apartment to others, you are not thereby relieved of the liabilities of a tenant. For example, if the person you sublet to (the “sublessee”) doesn’t pay the rent, you are responsible for paying it.

The sublessee is responsible solely to you, and the landlord will hold you responsible for all damages to the apartment caused by willful acts of the sublessee.

Noise and Disturbance

City ordinances set limits to the number of people who can legally occupy an apartment or building. Violations of these ordinances, such as overcrowding an apartment during a party, are classified as a type of disturbing the peace. Any act of disturbing the peace may result in:

  • Fines, which begin at $200 and increase with repeated violations
  • Eviction
  • The University’s revoking your off-campus permission

The tenant is responsible for keeping noise at a level that will not disturb other tenants or neighbors. Providence ordinances regulating noise and large gatherings are available here.

Your landlord can be held responsible for the behavior of his or her tenants; therefore, making unreasonable disturbing noise may be grounds for your eviction.

To avoid conflict over noise:

  • Be certain not to make noise at times that might disturb others
  • Meet your neighbors
  • Give neighbors your phone number
  • Tell them in advance if you plan to have a party so that they can call you directly, rather than your landlord or the police, should the noise get too loud

Evictions

You can be evicted only if you:

  • Fail to fulfill one or more of the basic contractual obligations stated in your lease. You can then be evicted during the term of your lease.
  • Don’t move out at the end of your lease period
  • Give your landlord a legal cause to do so, such as disturbing the peace

The most common causes of eviction are:

  • Failure to pay rent
  • Violations of the rental agreement, such as deliberate acts of destruction, neglecting the premises, or repeatedly disturbing neighbors
  • Violations of tenant responsibilities under state or local municipal minimum housing codes

In order to evict you, your landlord must:

  • Give you proper written notice that s/he intends to terminate your tenancy
  • Obtain a court judgment against you if you do not move voluntarily
  • Obtain a sheriff’s writ of execution and have the sheriff remove you and your personal property from the premises

If you receive any kind of eviction notice, make a note of how, when, and from whom you received it.

If it is a personal or form letter from your landlord, you:

  • Have five days to pay overdue rent
  • Have 20 days to remedy a breach of your rental agreement
  • Should make every attempt to take care of the situation, or your landlord may proceed with a court eviction action against you

If you receive an eviction complaint or summons-and-answer form from the local district court, you should:

  • Fill out and return the answer form, stating your major defense against the eviction action
  • Follow through by attending the court session on the appointed date
  • You may wish to contact an attorney to represent you

FOR MORE INFORMATION REGARDING EVICTIONS, REFER TO THE STATE OF RHODE ISLAND LANDLORD-TENANT HANDBOOK.

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Other Considerations

Moving Out

Before the end of your lease, ask the landlord to inspect the premises for damages. Taking the following action can minimize problems and help speed the return of your security deposit:

  • Making minor repairs prior to your landlord’s inspection
  • Cleaning prior to your landlord’s inspection, so that your apartment is as clean as when you moved in
  • Asking your to landlord make an itemized list of all damages found, including estimated costs of repair
  • Repairing or hiring someone to repair damage for which you are responsible

If you made a list of deficiencies at the beginning of the lease period which was not repaired during your tenancy, you can use it to avoid charges for which you should not be held accountable.

The overall impression that the landlord gets at inspection can make your moving out much easier. You must provide your landlord with a forwarding address in order to receive your security deposit back, less any charges for damages. Be sure to read the section on security deposits in this guide.

Tenant's Insurance

When renting, you may want to consider tenant’s insurance, which covers your personal property from fire, theft, and acts of nature. It may also include liability coverage, which means that if someone is injured in the apartment you are renting, you are insured against financial damages. Property owner insurance, which is insurance taken out by your landlord, will not cover loss or damage to tenants’ personal possessions.

For more information about personal property insurance visit the Brown University Insurance Office

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Street Safety

When living off-campus, you take on greater responsibility for your personal safety. Make use of these resources, which are available for your security:

  • Brown-RISD-safeRIDE at 863-2322. safeRIDE is a cooperative safety-oriented transportation service offered to the Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design communities; that is, the students, faculty, and staff of these institutions and of the hospitals affiliated with Brown Medical School.
  • Brown Safewalk, at 863-2542, provides members of the Brown Community with a point-to-point walking escort.

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Fire Safety

In the U.S., there are approximately 10,000 fire-related deaths per year. While loss of life by fire ranks third among the causes of accidental death, smoke and gas are usually the actual killers. A smoldering waste basket or frayed electrical cord can place you at risk long before actual flames appear. You can lessen your risk by adhering to the following guidelines:

Eliminate Fire Potential

  • Be a careful housekeeper. Keep stoves, frying pans, vents, etc. free of grease. Do not let flammable materials accumulate, and do not block means of egress.
  • When you first enter your living unit, plan how you would escape from each room in the event of fire. By law, there should be two means of egress from each living unit.
  • Make sure you have smoke detectors, which are required by law, and must be supplied by your landlord. If your landlord fails to supply them, purchase smoke detectors yourself. If they are battery operated, change their batteries twice a year, when daylight savings time changes, and test them once a month.
  • Make sure you have carbon monoxide detectors, which are also required under the new RI fire code.
  • Check electrical appliances for frayed wiring, etc.
  • Learn the locations of fire alarms and fire extinguishers, and check the expiration dates on your fire extinguishers to see that they are up to date and have been tested to be in good working order.

On Discovering a Fire

  • Sound the alarm to alert other residents
  • Call the Fire Department
  • Shut all doors and windows in the immediate vicinity of the fire to contain it
  • Leave the building promptly by the nearest exit
  • Do not attempt to fight the fire

On Hearing a Fire Alarm Sound

  • Feel the door; if it is cool to the touch, open it slowly.
  • If the corridor or hallway is clear of smoke and heat, exit the building immediately.
  • If the corridor or hallway is blocked by heat or smoke, stay in a room with the door tightly closed.
  • Do not break a window.
  • Remain at a window until help arrives.

If you feel that your living area is not reasonably safe from fire, advise your landlord, the Fire Department, and the Providence Department of Inspection and Standards. It is your life; protect it.

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Conclusion

Once you sign a lease, your legal relationship with your landlord is determined by the document you’ve signed. The steps you have taken prior to signing a lease can protect you and your landlord from misunderstandings and the need for legal action. If problems do arise, consult the Appendix of this guide for a list of people and agencies who can offer you advice.

A copy of the State of Rhode Island Landlord/Tenant Handbook can be obtained by going to the State of RI Housing Resources Commission. The handbook provides general information concerning landlord-tenant relationships and responsibilities, based on Rhode Island General Law (RIGL) Chapter 34-18, entitled the “Residential Landlord Tenant Act.”

The degree to which you communicate with your landlord and neighbors, showing goodwill and a willingness to own your responsibilities, will, to a large extent, determine how these relationships succeed.

Landlord/tenant relationships in the Providence area are generally amicable. If both you and your landlord act responsibly, you will help ensure that off-campus housing for Brown students remains available.

Enjoy your new home!

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Appendices

Appendix A: Apartment Checklist

We suggest you examine prospective apartments with this checklist in hand.

*Rhode Island law requires that your landlord provide these.

Interiors

  • __ Are there shades in bathroom and bedroom windows?*
  • __ Is there adequate work/study space?
  • __ Is there adequate storage space?

Living room

  • __ Is there a cable outlet?
  • __ Is there a phone outlet?
  • __ Are there sufficient electrical outlets?

Bathroom

  • __ Does it have a tub?
  • __ Does it have a shower?
  • __ Is there ventilation?

Bedrooms

  • __ Number:
  • __ Are there phone outlets where needed?
  • __ Are there sufficient electrical outlets?

Kitchen

  • __ Is there a stove hookup* or stove?
  • __ Is there a refrigerator hookup* or refrigerator?
  • __ Is there a sink?*
  • __ Is there ventilation?

Exterior

  • __ Is the space for parking adequate?
  • __ Is there a yard or porch?
  • __ Are there screens and storm windows in all windows?
  • __ Are walkways/steps/stairwells in good condition?

Structure

  • __ Are the walls, ceilings, and floors in sound condition?
  • __ Do windows and doors open and close properly?
  • __ Is the apartment properly insulated?

Plumbing

  • __ Do any faucets leak, or do water stains show signs of leakage?
  • __ Do the sinks, tub/shower drain properly?
  • __ Do toilets flush properly?
  • __Is water pressure adequate?
  • __Is there sufficient hot water?

Safety

  • __ Are there at least two means of egress?*
  • __ Are the fire escapes in good condition?*
  • __ Is there any exposed wiring?
  • __ Are stairwells and halls clear and well-lit?
  • __ Are there smoke detectors?*
  • __ Are there carbon monoxide detectors?
  • __ Are appliances, if provided, in good working condition?
  • __ Fire extinguishers with current certification?

Security

  • __ Are there sufficient locks on all exterior doors and windows?
  • __ Is there a dead bolt lock on the apartment door?
  • __ Does the building door fall shut on its own weight and self-lock?
  • __ Is there a working electric door buzzer?
  • __ Do windows accessible from the ground have security screens?
  • __ Are entrances, walkways, and parking areas well lit?

Services

  • __ Are laundry facilities available for your use?
  • __ Is there a lock on the mailbox?
  • __ If there is an elevator; is it in satisfactory condition?
  • __ Is the apartment handicapped accessible?
  • __ Is the landlord responsible for clearing snow from walks and driveways?
  • __ Is the landlord responsible for cutting grass, raking leaves, etc.?

Health & Environment

  • __ Regular garbage collection and adequate containers with lids?
  • __ Is the landlord responsible for moving garbage containers to the curb for trash pick-up, or are you?
  • __ Is recycling available, and are containers provided?
  • __ Is smoking allowed in the apartment/house?
  • __ Is a GFI outlet provided in the bathroom, kitchen, or other spaces where there is running water?

QUESTIONS TO ASK CURRENT TENANTS:

  • What do the utility bills tend to be, especially winter-time heating bills?
  • Does the heating system provide adequate heat?
  • Are heating controls provided, and are they effective?
  • Is there sufficient hot water?
  • What are noise levels like?
  • How responsive is the landlord?
  • How well does the landlord maintain the property?
  • How safe is the neighborhood?
  • How secure is the building?
  • What are the other tenants like? Have you had any problems with any of them?
  • What are the neighbors like? Have you had any problems with any of them?

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Appendix B: Where to Go for Assistance

Brown University Office of Auxiliary Housing
401-863-2541

University Council of Students (UCS)-retained lawyer,
http://blog.brownucs.org/

Coalition for Consumer Justice
Advocate for tenant rights and information; publishes a detailed brochure entitled Landlord/Tenant Handbook
50 Brown Street,
Cranston RI 02920
401-944-9199

Rhode Island Legal Services, Inc.
Free legal aid to those whose income does not exceed poverty-level limits (students included)
56 Pine Street,
Providence, RI 02903
401-274-2652

Department of Inspection and Standards, City of Providence
Addresses housing code complaints
190 Dyer Street,
Providence, RI 02903
401-421-7740

Fire/Rescue/EMS
Fire Department Headquarters
Non-emergencies: 401-243-6060
Emergencies: Dial 911

Providence Police
Non-emergencies: 401-272-3121
Emergencies: Dial 911

Brown University Public Safety
Non-emergencies: 863-3322
Emergencies: Dial 863-4111

Brown safeRIDE/safewalk
863-2322/863-1778

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Appendix C: City of Providence Phone Numbers

Call these numbers today to take action regarding your community concerns. Call 421-PROV for assistance. The area code for all of the following phone numbers is 401.

  • Abandoned buildings
    Building Inspection & Standards
    421-7740 x 353
  • Abandoned vehicles
    Providence Police Department
    272-3121
  • Aircraft noise in R.I.
    Airport Corporation
    732-3621
  • Appliance Disposal
    White Goods
    800-972-4545
  • Clogged catch basins
    Department of Public Works
    467-7950
  • Damaged street lights
    Narragansett Electric Co.
    1-800-322-3223
  • Domestic disputes
    Providence Police Department
    243-6407
  • Drug dealing
    Providence Police Department
    272-3121
  • Graffiti
    Anti-Graffiti Patrol
    800-824-4377
  • Housing violations
    Building Inspection & Standards
    421-7740 x 348
  • Illegal apartments
    Building Inspection & Standards
    421-7740 x 353
  • Illegal parking
    Providence Police Department
    272-3121
  • Illegal posted bills
    Anti-Graffiti Patrol
    800-824-4377
  • Litter removal
    Environmental Services
    467-7950
  • Loitering
    Providence Police Department
    785-9450
  • Missing street signs
    Traffic Engineering
    781-4044<
  • Noise
    Providence Police Department
    272-3121
  • Overflowing dumpsters
    Department of Public Works
    467-7950
  • Potholes
    Department of Public Works
    467-7950 x 14
  • Rats
    Environmental Services
    467-7950
  • Repaving
    Department of Public Works
    467-7950
  • Restriping crosswalks
    Traffic Engineering
    781-4044
  • Snow removal
    Department of Public Works
    467-7950
  • Special event information
    Providence Parks Department
    621-1992
  • Storm damage
    Providence Parks Department
    785-9450
  • Stray/unlicensed animals
    Providence Police Department
    243-6040
  • Trash pick-up
    Department of Public Works
    467-7950
  • Tree replacement
    Providence Parks Department
    785-9450
  • Un-permitted home repair
    Building Inspection & Standards
    421-7740 x 353
  • Unsafe structures
    Building Inspection & Standards
    421-7740 x 353
  • Weeds and overgrowth
    Department of Public Works
    467-7950
  • Vacant lots
    Department of Public Works
    467-7950

For additional help, you can always call the Citizens Assistance Office at 421-2489. EMERGENCIES : Fire, Medical, Police DIAL 911

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Appendix D: Handy Websites and Links

 

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Appendix E: Utilities

Electricity

Narragansett Electric Company
280 Melrose Street, Providence RI 02907
1-800-322-3223
TTY/TDD for Hearing Impaired 1-800-793-5046
*To report power outages only 1-800-909-1212
Or go online www.narragansett.com

Cable Communication Services

Cox Cable Company
401-383-2000
Or go online www.cox.com

Natural Gas

The New England Gas Company
100 Weybosset St., Providence, RI 02903
401-272-5040
Or go online to www.provgas.com

To start your own gas account, follow these easy instructions to avoid confusion and delay:

  • If the gas is off and you do not owe a previous bill, call and the Gas Company will take information over the phone.
  • If you have had a gas account in the past and still have an overdue bill, you must go to the Gas Company office with identification (a picture ID such as a driver's license and your college ID). Previous bills must be paid in full before you can open another account. The office is open 8:30 a.m. - 4:45 p.m., Monday-Friday.
  • If the gas is on: call the Gas Company, which will take the information over the telephone. Also, an application will be sent to you and must be returned. In Providence & Vicinity: 401-831-8800 Toll Free Anywhere in RI: 1-800-544-4944 Telecommunications Device: 1-800-225-9667

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