I Live Off Campus

Renter's Rights

Know your rights

There are guidelines and regulations that govern the Property Owner/Tenant relationship, with each party having responsibilities. It is important to know the responsibilities of each in order to have a positive leasing experience.  Consult the Borough of West Chester Code  and the Borough’s Department of Building, Housing, and Code Enforcement to learn additional information.  The following responsibilities are outlined in the Borough of West Chester Code.   

Property Owner Responsibilities  

Property owner responsibilities include (but are not limited to):  

  • Keep the premises in good and safe condition  
  • Regularly perform all maintenance, including lawn mowing and ice and snow removal  
  • Regulate the conduct and activities of the occupants of the rental  
  • Promptly reply to reasonable complaints and inquiries from occupants 

Tenant Responsibilities  

Tenant responsibilities include (but are not limited to): 

  • The occupant shall deposit all rubbish, garbage and other waste from his or her residential rental dwelling unit into containers provided by the owner in a clean and safe manner and shall separate and place for collection all recyclable materials 
  • The occupant shall not engage in, nor tolerate, nor permit others on the premises to engage in any conduct declared illegal under the Pennsylvania Crimes Code 
  • The occupant shall not intentionally cause, nor permit or tolerate others to cause, damage to the premises 
  • The occupant shall permit inspections by the Code Official of the premises at reasonable times and upon reasonable notice to the owner as provided in the rental agreement 

Lease Considerations and Renter's Insurance

Pencil writing

Before signing your lease, make sure it includes the following:

  • Names- you, landlord, address
  • Description of building with address
  • Dates and terms of rental
  • Rent: Payment procedures, amount, due date, late penalties
  • Renewal procedures
  • Who is responsible for maintenance and repairs 
  • Utilities - what do you pay and what is provided in the cost of the rent
  • Deposits
  • Termination of Renewal
  • Subletting
  • Property Owner Access of rental property – specifically how much notice prior to entering
  • Alternative housing if you cannot occupy the property on the first day of lease or you need to leave rental location due to repair, etc.

Renter's insurance is essential to all who live in any kind of rental unit. It protects your belongings from loss, theft, and damage. Renter's insurance also protects you from being sued for medical bills if someone were to hurt themselves in your apartment/house. 

Your property owner's insurance covers only damage to their property or injuries that occur outside of the unit.  Just because your roommate has insurance, does not mean you are covered. 

Policies only cover the personal belongings of the insured.  Check your parents' homeowner's insurance to see if it covers a dependent's apartment.  In most cases, you may get renter's insurance from the same company that provides your car insurance. 

Roommates and Subletting


Are you searching for a roommate or for a subletting opportunity? Consider the following options: 

  • Advertise on university social media  
  • Visit OCCS in Sykes 238 for an individual housing consultation 

When considering a roommate for your off campus residence, asking good questions can help you find a compatible match.  Here are some question examples: 

  • What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
  • How often do you prefer to do dishes, vacuum, clean the bathtub, etc?
  • Do you have a partner? Are they going to be an overnight guest?
  • What do you like to share (food, cleaning supplies, shower items)?
  • What is your usual bedtime and what time do you get ready for work/class in the morning 

Noteworthy Borough Policies

Students together posing for picture

Similar to that of the West Chester University Student Code of Conduct, the Borough of West Chester has its own codes.  Codes are also referred to as a body of laws. The Building and Housing Department is responsible for enforcement of the West Chester Borough Code.  Codes in the Borough include, but are not limited to, alcoholic beverages; garbage, rubbish, and refuse; noise disturbance; and disruptive conduct reports. 

As a student living in the Borough, you are responsible for knowing and following these codes in addition to the WCU Student Code of Conduct.  If you reside in a neighboring area and do not live in the Borough, consider searching for your municipality's code.  

Review the entire Borough Code for more information about the laws in the Borough.