After You Move In

So you’ve found a place to live, signed a lease, and moved your life into a suitable apartment or house. Now it’s time to make yourself aware of your surroundings, neighborhood ordinances, community resources, and policies to make your time within the Towson community the best possible for both you, your roommates, and your neighbors.

Towson Run apartments

MOVING IN 101:

  • Complete a "Change of Address" form at the nearest post office. Also update your local address information with Towson Online Services.
  • Complete a thorough inventory of your apartment. Give a copy of the inspection form to your landlord and keep a copy for your files.
  • Obtain a paper copy of your lease.
  • Always get a written receipt from your landlord when you pay rent or a deposit.
  • Find out your rights and responsibilities and what the landlord must do to evict you.
  • Add any necessary locks to windows and doors.
  • Arrange to have your phone service and other utilities turned on if necessary.
  • Consider purchasing renter’s insurance. First, check if your parents’ homeowner’s insurance will cover your personal property.
  • Communicate. It is important to communicate with your landlord. Keep the lines of communication open. However, remember to respect each other’s privacy.
  • Once you have moved into your new apartment, keep in mind that your landlord still owns the property and can enter it to make inspections or repairs.
  • If you think your apartment is uninhabitable, call the health department and the building inspector to inspect your apartment for housing code violations.
  • Always keep record or any text messages, emails, or voicemails from your landlord.

COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS

Get involved with your block or neighborhood association. Be an active part of the decision making in your community.

Many communities have associations that allow residents an opportunity to seek membership. These associations are helpful in serving as a voice to legislators regarding community concerns. Some also offer benefits to members, which may include snow removal service. Community associations create great avenues for remedying community issues and neighbor relations. 

View a full list of community associations.

GUESTS

Take responsibility for your guests. Instruct them on the need for respect of your neighbors’ property and desired environment. Be sure that they park in a safe place that does not inconvenience your neighbors.

ILLEGAL LOCKOUT

A tenant may come home to his/her apartment to find that the landlord has changed the locks or cut off an essential service, such as gas, heat, water or electricity, to which the tenant is entitled. 

Such action usually follows a tenant being behind in rent or staying after the day he was to vacate the apartment. A lockout may be the result of an argument between the tenant and the landlord. 

Should a lockout occur, or if services are diminished, the tenant has the right to hire a locksmith, change the locks, reenter the premises and hold the landlord responsible for the costs involved. In addition, in Baltimore City and Baltimore County, the landlord may be subject to additional fines and a possible jail sentence for an illegal lockout. 

The basic principle is that a landlord cannot take the law into his/her own hands. If the tenant owes rent or has not vacated the premises when he should have, the landlord’s remedy is to take the tenant to court.

INVESTING IN YOUR COMMUNITY

When moving into a community, students must consider the needs and desired environment of those who already live there. Students are often short-term residents who move frequently, and those who have chosen to live in an area long-term often feel invested in their neighborhood and community at large. Often, interests and lifestyles of short-term and long-term residents conflict, with each party not fully understanding or investing in building a positive relationship.

A few ways to begin a peaceful relationship in your new residence:

  • Demonstrate an interest in your neighbors. Make an effort to meet them and learn their names.
  • Greet your neighbors. Strive to be approachable and friendly.
  • Find out what is important to them, learn about their families, interests and needs.
  • Ask your neighbors for help when you need it. Likewise, be receptive to their requests for help.

NOISE LEVELS

Watch your noise levels. Families with children need a quiet environment in order to keep to bedtime routines. Loud music or cars, shouting individuals or increased traffic will disrupt your neighbors.

Please be courteous to your neighbors and observe the Baltimore County ordinances regarding noise between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. As of 1993, there is a “no undue” noise ordinance in effect at any time of day or night. Residents and landlords can be cited for noise violations.

One of the biggest issues that the community members have is social functions. It is usually a neighbor who calls when a social function gets too loud, goes outside, or becomes too crowded. 

Here are some suggestions if you are planning a social function:

  • Talk to your neighbors before planning social function. Give out your phone number so they can call you if it gets too loud.
  • Limit the number of guests at your social functions.
  • Make sure anyone consuming alcohol is 21 or older.
  • From time to time, go outside and check on the noise level of your social functions.
  • Discourage guests from wandering in front of your home or around your neighborhood.
  • Clean up any mess and place into secured trash bags or recycling bins.

PARKING

  • Keep parked cars to a minimum and be aware of the ability of others to get in and out of their driveways without their view being obstructed. Work with neighbors to develop a parking plan if not enough space is available, especially when friends visit.
  • Cars should be parked in the street, garage, or in your driveway- not on the lawn.
  • Make sure that your car is registered in Maryland or file the necessary paperwork to reside in Maryland with an out-of-state registration. 
  • Make sure to register for parking if you are parking on the street. You will need a resident’s parking sticker to park your car on the streets in the neighborhood. Be sure to secure a parking sticker from the Licenses and Permits Office in Baltimore County: Office Building at 111 W. Chesapeake Avenue, Baltimore, MD.

PETS

  • Secure tags with your current contact information on dogs and cats in case they leave your yard. 
  • Remember to clean up after your pet if it uses a neighbor’s yard as its bathroom. The same may apply for parks in the area. 
  • Take care of your pets. For your individual liability and the safety of your pet, do not leave your pet unattended for long periods of time or let it roam freely.
  • Barking dogs or other wandering pets are disruptive and a safety hazard. If your pet bites another person, be prepared to bear that responsibility as the pet’s owner. 
  • Always get a written receipt from your landlord when you pay rent or a deposit.
  • If you have a written lease, find out your rights and responsibilities and what the landlord must do to evict you.
  • If something needs to be fixed, be sure you refer to your lease for a repair clause, because you may have to fix it. If your landlord is responsible for the repairs, give a written notice of what needs to be repaired and wait a reasonable amount of time for a response.
  • If you think your apartment is uninhabitable, call the health department and the building inspector to inspect your apartment -for housing code violations.

REPAIRS TO YOUR DWELLING

If something needs to be fixed, be sure you refer to your lease for a repair clause, because you may have to fix it. If your landlord is responsible for the repairs, give a written notice of what needs to be repaired and wait a reasonable amount of time for a response.

If your landlord has not made repairs to your dwelling, follow these steps to get the process rolling:

1. Request a list of damages to your dwelling within 15 days of moving in. Having this documentation gives you a place to begin. To find out what housing standards are required by law in Baltimore City or Baltimore County, stop by Campus Life to review this information.

2. Write your landlord a letter and keep a copy for yourself. Always put your requests in writing and specify how and when you would like your landlord to respond. For example: “Please put in a request to fix the air conditioner this week and send a copy of the work request to the following address.” Send the letter to your landlord via certified mail. This means that someone has to sign for it and it gives you documentation that your mail has been received. This service costs about $3 and is available at the TU post office in the first floor of the University Union.

3. If your landlord does not reply, you can call county or city housing inspectors to help you get the repairs made. To make an appointment with a Baltimore County Housing Inspector, call 410-396-6041 (for the Northern District) or 410-887-8099 for Baltimore County. An inspection by one of these representatives will generate a report that may assist you in getting the repairs accomplished. Your landlord can be fined for housing violations that

SNOW REMOVAL

  • Residents are required to remove snow from sidewalks for the safety of yourself and passerbys. 
  • Be careful to remove snow from your walkway, stairs, and mailbox for the postal service.
  • If you are going to be away during a winter break, make arrangements for snow to be removed while you are away.
  • Snow shovels and sidewalk salt can be found at your nearest home improvement or grocery store.

ROOMATE RELATIONSHIPS

It is important to be open and honest with your roommate to make both of your living situations healthy, respectful, and safe. Have a clear verbal (or written) understanding of each other’s lifestyle, how the apartment is to be managed and what is expected of each other. A few things to consider:

  • What is the protocol for visitors and guests? 
  • Will you share any cleaning supplies or grocery items (bread, milk, coffee, butter, eggs)? If so, how will this arrangement work?
  • How will bills be divided? Who will put which bills in their name? It may be helpful to make a shareable document with what amount is owed and when it is due.
  • How will cleaning duties and chores be divided?
  • When are quiet hours needed?

TRASH & LAWN MAINTENANCE

Keep your apartment, home, and property clean at all times. Trash attracts bugs and/or animals and detracts from the appearance of the community. Your neighbors have chosen this community as their home and take pride in it. A few helpful tips to help keep your neighborhood clean:

  • Know which day Baltimore County will pick up your trash and recycling. You can download a printable schedule here.
  • There is also a pick up schedule for yard waste (wet grass, branches, twigs, leaves, etc.) which can be found here.
  • Getting rid of bulk items (mattresses, furniture, appliances)? You have several options. You can donate usable items, drop them off at Baltimore County drop-off facilities, or contract a private collector to pick them up for you. Learn more here.
  • Check your lease to determine who is responsible for lawn maintenance and trash.
  • Fines can be given to residents whose lawns grow too tall. Be sure to find if it is your responsibility to cut the lawn. 
  • Ensure all trash is in a trash container with a secure lid. Uncovered trash can result in roach, ant, rat, and mouse infestations. 

TRANSPORTATION & PARKING

Towson University has many transportation options for students who wish to travel on and off campus.

For bus, metro, and light rail schedules, check out TU’s Parking and Transportation website.