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Got Problems?

Are you a student having problems related to off campus living?

Are you experiencing any of the following concerns:

-Difficulties with maintenance concerns or other complaints about your housing?

-Difficulty contacting or talking with your landlord about concerns?

-Conflict with roommates that is making your living arrangement uncomfortable?

-Difficulty understanding terms of your lease agreement and your rights and responsibilities as a tenant?

-Difficulty finding off campus housing or roommates?

-Difficulty with any other area of the transition process to off campus living (i.e. budgeting, cooking, accessing transportation to campus, etc.)?

Then please contact our office to see what we can do to help. You can contact us by phone, email, or stopping by to see us any time our office is open.

You can also complete a Comments form on this website with your concerns and someone from our office will get back in contact with you within 1 business day.

Another issue that our office would like you to be aware of is sexual harassment in housing.  The Department of Justice has recently started an initiative that is focused on helping residents of housing or applicants of housing who may have experienced sex discrimination under the Fair Housing Act in the form of sexual harassment.  Below is some information on what sexual harassment in housing might look like, and behaviors that could indicate this harassment:

What does sexual harassment in housing look like?

 

Who might be a victim?  

-Housing Applicants

-Tenants

-Housing Benefit Applicants or Recipients

-Loan Applicants or Recipients

 

Who might be a harasser?

-Landlords

-Building or property managers

-Maintenance workers

-Housing authority employees

-Building security guards

-Loan officers

 

What are typical behaviors that might indicate sexual harassment in housing?

-Commenting on the victim’s body or looks

-Sending sexually suggestive text messages to victim

-Lurking or spying on victim

-Exposing self to victim, showing victim pornography, talking about set with the victim

-Touching the victim without consent

-Conditioning certain housing benefits- for example- renting to the victim, making repairs, excusing a late rent payment- on the receipt of sexual favors including engaging in sexual acts, taking pictures of the victim

-Threatening to evict the victim if they do not engage in sexual acts or favors

 

Should you have experienced sexual harassment in housing, you can contact the Department of Justice to report this by the following methods:

Email:  fairhousing@usdoj.com

Phone: 1-844-380-6178

 

For more information on sexual harassment in housing, you can view the flyers below:

Sexual Harrassment in Housing

Sexual Harrassment in Housing Flyer

Sometimes, even with pre-planning, and not signing a lease until ready to commit to housing, situations arise that make it impossible to keep the terms of the lease agreement.  For example, this could be having a medical emergency that requires a student to return home from JMU, being released from JMU for academic or other reasons, or transferring to a different location.  Also, some students find inability to live with roommates or work out conflicts, and would prefer to leave their current lease to move to a different housing location. Despite the reason, leases are legally binding agreements with no early-out clause should there be these unforeseen circumstances.  The only way to no longer be responsible for the rent for your room, is to find someone to take over your lease by subletting or re-letting. There are different policies at each individual apartment complex or rental agency regarding subleasing, so if you are considering this option, please contact your landlord or property management company first to discuss any specific rules or regulations.

If you are able to sublease and this is your best option, you will need to advertise your available sublet to students.  Off-Campus Life has an office sublease list to help with advertising, and their are advertising options through our partner website as well. Contact the office by phone, email, or stopping in to learn more about these options and get assistance in finding as many ways possible to advertise.

Many property managers and landlords have specific forms you will need to fill out if you’re planning on subleasing, but if they do not have these forms available check out Subleasing Agreement Form (PDF). If you have any other questions, let us know.  We will be glad to help!

Another common problem that occurs when living off campus is conflict with roommates.  Conflict is inevitable in any close relationship, but it can often be hard to know how to navigate, and it can certainly make a living situation uncomfortable.

If you are having conflict with roommates, you can visit our office or contact our office by phone or email to schedule a meeting with the Coordinator of Off-Campus Life to discuss your concerns.  After meeting with you and discussing the situation, the Coordinator will help you identify resources that could assist such as roommate mediation or restorative justice through the Office of Student Accountability and Restorative Practices at JMU.

Off-campus living can, at times, involve conflict with a landlord.  These conflicts can be related to misunderstanding terms and conditions of a lease, maintenance issues, safety concerns, or disagreements related to payments or responsibilities.

Off-Campus Life can provide you with some assistance related to navigating these conflicts and knowing what steps to take should your landlord actually be in violation of the lease.  For help with these concerns, please contact our office by phone, email, or in person to schedule a meeting with the Coordinator of Off-Campus Life. You can also check out these helpful links below that can assist in providing you more information to address the conflict.

Updated Virginia Landlord and Tenant Act

Tenant’s Assertion and Complaint Form

City of Harrisonburg Building Inspector’s Office

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