Students gathered on campus

living in the community

One of the challenges of living in a neighborhood or apartment community is making the transition from residence hall life to life in a non-University environment. Behaviors that may be acceptable in a residence hall are often not acceptable in an off-campus apartment or neighborhood setting. Here are a few suggestions on how to be a good neighbor and positive member of your community:

Say hello and get to know your neighbors.
Opening the lines of communication makes it easier to talk about those petty annoyances before they become big problems. As you see them in the hallways, laundry room, lobby, or in front of the building/house, smile and say hello. If they appear to be receptive, introduce yourself.

Watch out for the safety of your community.
If you observe any suspicious behavior, report it to Lexington Police. Watch and listen for unusual things such as loud noises or suspicious or unknown people loitering.

Understand and follow the apartment community or landlord rules.
In addition to local laws, many landlords or apartment communities have rules for things like where you can park, when certain facilities are open, quiet hours, trash pickup, pets and more. These should all be spelled out in either your lease or in a supplemental set of rules and regulations. Know and follow them. Your neighbors and landlord will thank you.

Keep your noise and belongings within your own space.
Talking on cell phones in apartment community hallways, leaving trash or personal belongings in public areas or loud, late-night congregations in common areas may be a way of life in the residence hall setting, but may be disturbing to others and frowned upon in off-campus residential areas. Be conscious of your volume.

Observe reasonable hours for noisy activities.
Vacuuming, hanging pictures, moving heavy furniture, playing loud music and hosting large gatherings all produce noise that can travel beyond the walls of your apartment or boundaries of your house. Make every effort to restrict these activities to daytime hours. Check your lease or rental regulations and local ordinances and follow any specified quiet hours.

Treat your neighbors' children with respect.
Watch your words and behavior around neighborhood children and remember they may follow the example you set. Understand that your neighbors' children have the right to be there and that they are, after all, children. Treating neighborhood children with respect can go a long way to maintaining and improving your rapport with your neighbors.

Take pride in your environment by keeping visible areas neat and tidy.
Keeping your yard, porch, balcony and walkway clean and free of debris and litter makes everyone's home look appealing.

Understand that not everyone loves your pet like you do.
If your lease allows pets, be aware of the rules concerning where they can be when they are outside your apartment or house. Keep your pet on a leash unless it is in your fenced backyard or inside your home. Don't let your dog roam free in the neighborhood or shared yard and don't let it run on the lawns of others. Walk pets by the side of the road and at all times be prepared to clean up after your pet. Be aware that you'll be held responsible for any noise your pet makes while you are away at work or school. If your landlord doesn't allow pets, don't try to get away with it.

Don't let your right to party overshadow your responsibility to your neighbors.
Let neighbors know ahead of time when a party will be happening so they can prepare. It is your responsibility as host to ensure that your guests understand the rules of respect for your neighborhood (including where it is okay to park) and that they remain inside your apartment/house (or inside your own personal outside space) during the party. Remember: even when you're having a party, Lexington's ordinances regarding noise apply.

noise and disorderly conduct

Although residential communities do not have specific "quiet hours," it is important to respect the differing lifestyles of your neighbors in regard to noise. The parents next door may be putting their children to bed at 8 p.m., just when you're ready to turn up the stereo. Loud parties, unnecessary shouting and amplified sound are all examples of violations of general neighborhood common courtesies. Neighborhoods are full of working professionals, families with children and older adults who seek respectful neighbors in their community.

In general, Lexington's Noise Ordinance (Sec. 14-70) prohibits any noise that can be heard outside your apartment or house that would "annoy or disturb a reasonable person of normal sensitivities." The Lexington Area Party Plan (Sec. 14-96) sets fines of up to $500 for residences that have multiple noise, disorderly conduct or alcohol/drug violations.

personal safety

Most students living off campus rent apartments or houses and, as a consequence, live in groups somewhat similar to residence hall life on campus. As with residence hall living, two of the major concerns are security breaches and life safety hazards. Off campus students, lacking University personnel to monitor such concerns, must bear greater responsibility for their own safety. You must be much more aware of possible dangers than those who live on campus.

Locks & Alarms
Security breaches can usually be prevented with the use of adequate door locks and window latches. Nevertheless, the best lock in the world cannot prevent the entry of an unwanted person if the lock is left unlocked. Students living off campus should make certain they have adequate locks and latches and should be diligent in using them.

Fire Precautions
Fire prevention is vitally important in off-campus living situations. Fire alarms, extinguishers and sprinkler systems are routinely checked and tested in University residence halls. Such care is often not as routine in off-campus locations, especially when renting in a private residence. Many apartment communities (especially the newer ones) have fire suppressing sprinkler systems while other rental properties (especially private residences) do not. Check with the owner/landlord or building manager for information regarding the fire prevention system and evacuation plan for your building BEFORE you sign a lease.

Potential fuel for fire can be limited by good housekeeping practices. All clothing, paper and other combustibles should be stored away from sources of ignition such as open flames, matches and heated objects. Cigarettes and matches are major causes of fire, as are stoves and candles. Play it safe with any potential ignition source.

Be certain that your living unit has a fire extinguisher mounted in a readily accessible place. If you have a kitchen, the extinguisher should be mounted near the kitchen entrance. Also, make certain that you have functioning smoke alarms in the unit. Smoke may be the first warning of a fire and smoke kills more people than heat in building fires. The Lexington Fire Department has a more extensive explanation of fire safety in apartments as well as fire saftey checklists for both tenants and landlords.

Crime Awareness
Living in a city can offer residents tremendous opportunities and resources, but also provide some challenges regarding personal safety. Just as in any city, residents of Lexington should take precautions to ensure their safety.

1. Always carry a form of personal identification with you.
2. Be wary of isolated spots (e.g. apartment laundry rooms, underground garages, parking lots, dark streets). Walk with a friend or coworker, especially at night.
3. Always keep jewelry and other valuables out of sight.

4. Keep a firm grip on your purse. Use a purse with a secure clasp and keep the purse close to your body with a hand on the clasp.
5. Carry your wallet inside your coat or front pants pocket, never in your rear pants pocket.
6. Park your car in busy, lighted areas.
7. Always lock your car and take the key with you. Consider using an antitheft device for your car.
8. Be aware of your surroundings when using the ATM machine. Look around before conducting a transaction. If you see anyone or anything suspicious, cancel your transaction and go to another ATM. If you must use an ATM after hours, make sure it's well lit.
9. Wherever you are--on the street, waiting for the bus, driving, in a building or classroom--stay alert and tuned in to your surroundings.
10. Trust your instincts. If something or someone makes you uneasy, avoid the person or leave.
11. Know the neighborhoods where you work and live. Check out the locations of police and fire stations, public telephones, hospitals, restaurants and stores that are open late.
12. Never open your door to strangers. Offer to make an emergency call while someone waits outside. Check the identification of sales or service people before letting them in. Don't be embarrassed to phone for verification.
13. Know your neighbors so you have someone to call or a place to go if you're uncomfortable or frightened.
14. If you come home and see a door or window open or broken, don't go in. Call the police from a cell phone.
15. Keep your doors and windows locked, even when you're home.

Additional Safety Tips from PEACE OUTside CAMPUS
Personal Safety
Off-Campus Housing Safety
Safety in Your Apartment

searching for off-campus housing

Questions to Consider When Searching for Off-Campus Housing
Housing Search Checklist
2013-14 UK Renter's Guide
Considerations When Choosing a Roommate
Sample Roommate Agreement
Reviewing and Signing a Lease
Budget for Off-Campus Living

landlord-tenant overview for kentucky

 

more coming soon

 

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