The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • 8:37 am

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • 8:37 am

Satire | Legions of lousy leases — a cautionary tale

Satire+%7C+Legions+of+lousy+leases+%E2%80%94+a+cautionary+tale
Fikayomi Olagbami | Senior Staff Illustrator

Welcome to Pitt, children. And sure, you’re 18, or 20 or whatever, but you are a child, as a student living on campus. You’ll never be an adult until you have to figure out how to put the gas bill in your name instead of your landlord’s.
On-campus living was great, don’t get me wrong. Central heating, Wi-Fi and bathrooms you never have to clean? What is this, heaven? But, as the old saying goes, “Heaven doesn’t last forever; one day you have to move to South O, where the streets are stained in glass and the noise goes on forever.” Maybe that’s not a quote. It could just be from a dream I had one time. I’ll never know.
If you, like I was less than a year ago, are completely new to finding off-campus housing, consider me your unofficial guide. It can feel impossible and endless and heartbreaking, but if you follow these steps, you just might live north of the Boulevard and south of Forbes sometime soon.
Step 1: Have Friends
So this is the hardest one. I mean, you go to Pitt. You’re probably not the coolest person to ever live. That’s your friend that goes to CMU, rides jet skis to class and takes acting classes from Timothée Chalamet. And he has a girlfriend. Yeah, I know. But basically, just be super funny and nice and cool and everyone will be forced to like you since it’s actually the law — if you weren’t aware.
And, barring this, just insert yourself into every conversation you hear in class or at work about people looking for roommates. Nine out of 10 of these people will back away slowly, using T-Rex rules from the original Jurassic Park movies, hoping you forget about them and just wander away. But you’re looking for that 10th person. The person crazy enough to say, “Yeah, I’m looking for roommates. What’s your Instagram?” And, if you’re as lucky as I was, this person will know the other steps without even reading this and will be halfway through the process of…
Step 2: Find a Place
While there are dozens of great venues to find great venues, I don’t know most of them. So I’m just going to talk about the ones I know about and call them the best methods. So the three best ways to find a house/apartment/condo/castle/trunk-of-a-car-with-a-sleeping-bag are:
1. Facebook Groups
I know! What is this, 1984? They all have names like “University of Pittsburgh PITT & CMU Housing Subleases Roommates Apartments,” if you haven’t wasted days of your life scrolling deeper and deeper into them, debating whether or not you could live in the Barbie Dreamhouse some guy has in his closet for $800 a month. Not including utilities, obviously. And that’s if both the closet and the guy exist, which is rare. But they genuinely do sometimes have great listings. I personally sublet a place last summer that I found on Facebook. And while the one I found was pretty expensive, I lived to tell the tale, so, good enough. Plus you can usually skip Step 1 if you take the Facebook route.
2. Wandering around South O calling numbers you see posted up on houses
I did this. Correction, my prospective roommates did this while I walked with them, doubting that anything would come of it. We learned that many of the buildings with phone numbers on them all belong to the same guy. Don’t rent from that guy. I heard he never phones his mother. Not even on her birthday. The ones that didn’t belong to him belonged to overseas corporations slowly buying up real estate on college campuses nationwide, raising rates in a devious plot of international espionage. Or so I’ve heard. The legitimate ones were already rented for the next year, so this option didn’t work for us, but it may work for you, if you’re an early bird’s breakfast.
3. Zillow
Zillow’s awesome. You can filter by rent, chimney count, location, number of bedrooms and the number of dead rat carcasses you’ll find in your room bi-weekly. I’m kidding, you can’t actually filter by the number of chimneys yet, unfortunately.
One day, I’ll find a house with more chimney than roof. Or at least double digits. A lot of these places get rented out before you can even get the landlord to respond to your email about touring, but only because everyone uses it, because it’s the best. But really, just email and email and call and call until you can tour a couple places in your price range, whatever that may be. Whether that’s bartering one meal swap or a drink from an on-campus coffee shop a month, or, I don’t know, $500 to $2000.
Step 3: Choose your home for the next one to thirty-six months
I know I said finding friends — or “roommates,” as they insist upon calling themselves — is the hardest part, but this is actually the hardest part. No matter what your absentee father taught you, DO NOT SETTLE. Yes, it has a toilet. Yes, it has a front door, and the last place you toured didn’t. Yes, it’s almost December, and everyone you know has already signed a lease, and you don’t want to be homeless next year, and you’d like to just get this over with before finals. But you can’t settle.
You tour, then you ask for a blank copy of the lease. Some landlords don’t like this. Insist. You need to know what you’re getting into before you give them deposits and social security numbers and birthday presents and paintings and everything.
Let’s play two truths and lie — lease edition. Try to guess which one of the following I made up, and which are real things I’ve seen on South O leases.

  • The Landlord will charge the Tenant $40.00 extra if the Tenant does not place the trash on the correct day and correct time during the day. If the Landlord puts the trash back for the Tenant for the next day pick up, there is a $50.00 fee. If the Landlord can not tell who has not put out the trash, every apartment in the building will be charged a $40.00 fee.
  • Tenant will be charged and vehicle towed for any illegal parking, such as visitors and Moms and Dads. All drop offs and pickups of tenants by Moms, Dads and friends are not to be made on the premises, such as driveways or in the parking lots.
  • Parties are NOT PERMITTED on the premises at any time. Having a party will cost the Tenant the entire security deposit. A new deposit will be required by the Tenant to the Landlord. No gatherings permitted. It must be clearly understood that parties will not be tolerated. No loud music after 10:00 p.m. Excessive noise will constitute a default under the terms of this lease, which will result in your eviction! NO PORCH ACTIVITIES AFTER 10:00 p.m.

Okay, which ones do you think are from real leases? If you guessed all of them, you’d be right! If you ever think you’re crazy, just remember all the homeowners out there scamming children and calling it a career. Not all of them, but enough that you really have to be on the lookout for them.
Step 4: Profit
Congratulations! You’ve found the place you’re going to be trapped in for the next year and the people you’ll be stuck with. That is, if you ever get to go home with all the homework you have to do at school and if you guys don’t kill each other within the first month. Enjoy long nights walking around Schenley Park just to feel like you can breathe again and spending more time at work than you do studying just to afford rent. Hey! At least you can finally call yourself an adult.

Alaina McCall writes things. They would rather be a lighthouse keeper than do whatever they’re doing now. You can reach them at [email protected]

About the Contributor
Alaina McCall, Staff Columnist
Alaina McCall is an English Writing and Film Production double major. When they grow up, they would like to write sitcoms, but will probably settle for writing names on coffee cups. Feel free to slide in with your own jokes to [email protected]