Work and Travel

Housing

HOUSING

In any housing situation, it will be your responsibility to pay all costs associated with your U.S. accommodations including deposits, utilities, groceries, etc. It is your responsibility to abide by the housing rules and respect the property and community where you will be living. Not paying your rent, damaging the property, breaking the housing rules, disturbing tenants, and other undesirable actions by you will lead to your eviction from the housing.

If housing is provided with your GEC placement, please see your Program Information Guide for rent expenses, deposits, utilities, and the terms and conditions of your lease agreement. If you do not accept the pre-arranged housing, please contact GEC immediately. Once you sign the GEC Work Agreement and agree to the housing terms in the Program Information Guide and on the Work Agreement, you are obligated to stay at the pre-arranged housing for the duration of your program.

If your job placement with GEC does not provide housing assistance, below is helpful information on how to find housing and what is acceptable under the J-1 Summer Work Travel requirements.

Locating Housing

We suggest you begin your search for housing before you depart for the U.S. There are many types of housing options available such as hostels, hotels, motels, rental apartments and homes. Take the time to research the area where you will be living to become familiar with the average costs of accommodations, groceries, transportation, etc.

If you have not found suitable housing before you depart for the U.S., we recommend you plan on securing short-term housing (hotel, motel, and hostel) until you find a long-term solution. If you need housing assistance, please contact GEC immediately. !!! GEC MUST VET ALL HOUSING OPTIONS (including temporary housing) As your sponsor, we must know that your health, safety, and welfare are not compromised. We will determine if your housing is suitable based on the distance from your housing to your work site of activity, cost, what is included in your rent, how many people live there, how many beds in the home, and other factors.

Things to consider during your housing search are:

  • Cost, including deposits which may be non-refundable
  • Distance to work
  • Rules set by landlord/owner
  • Furnishings – tables, lamps, sofa, how many beds
  • Additional expenses not included in rent – Electricity, water, internet, etc.
  • Safety
  • Laundry facilities
  • Number of occupants per room
  • Cost to repair damages made by you or your roommates, if applicable.

Signing a lease or housing agreement

In most cases, you will be asked to sign a “lease” which is an agreement between you and the manager (or “landlord”) of the housing facility. In the U.S., a lease is a legally binding document, so be sure you understand everything before signing. You can request a copy of the lease before you sign it, and show it to someone if you have questions. The lease will state how much monthly rent is to be paid, the rent due date, when you can move in, how long you are responsible for paying rent, what utilities are included (water, heat, and electricity are sometimes included but sometimes they are considered to be extra charges), rules of the property, rules about pets, storage facilities, loud noise, security, and other things to protect the building and others living there. It is very important to carefully inspect the room when you first move in, make written notes of any damage you find, agree with the manager about the condition, and get the manager’s signature on your notes. Give the manager a copy and keep your own copy. This will aid you when you move out in any disagreements about the condition. Be sure to ask about rules for hanging pictures, and whether you are permitted to change anything. A lease protects your rights, as well as the rights of the manager. If you rent without a lease, you usually must give 30 days notice if you plan on leaving. If you leave the housing before the lease period is over, you will not receive your housing deposit or rent payments back. What is a deposit? A housing or security deposit is usually required. This deposit may or may not be returned to you depending on the rules of the housing facility. It is important to leave the housing clean and undamaged prior to your U.S. departure. If the housing deposit is refundable, it may not be returned to you prior to your departure from the U.S. (depending on the housing inspection).

If housing was arranged for you prior to your departure to the U.S., please review the specific housing arrangement details on the Work Agreement you signed and accepted. If you have further questions regarding your arrangements, contact your employer/ landlord/ sponsor before you arrive in the U.S.

Please note that if housing is pre-arranged or is provided by your host employer, you should thoroughly review the housing details and contract, if applicable. In some cases, host employers have signed leases on your behalf. It may not be possible for you to leave the housing and find alternate housing on your own. In other instances, you most likely will have to leave the housing if you quit or are fired from your job. It is your responsibility to ask about these conditions before you accept the housing arrangement. Review your lease agreements carefully to be sure you understand the terms of the contract before signing. Before moving out of your housing be sure to clean the property thoroughly and make sure any damages caused by you or your roommates have been repaired or that you notify the landlord of these issues. This will also help to ensure that you get your security deposit back, if applicable, depending on any damages you may have caused while living at the property. If, at any time you need GEC’s assistance with your housing arrangements, please contact us.

Please note that each state may have different laws as it relates to number of tenants per housing address. It is unlawful to overcrowd housing in order to pay a lesser amount of rent.

Terms and their definitions

  • “Unfurnished” means that you provide your own furnishings (chairs, tables, beds).
  • “Furnished” means that these items are provided, but the cost will be higher.
  • “Rooms for rent” usually are in a house with a shared kitchen and a shared bath and toilet. Usually these are lower in cost.
  • “Rental to Share” usually is an apartment or house that someone is renting already and wishes to share the costs. Usually you would have your own room, but share the rest of the apartment.
  • “Sublets” are situations in which the original residents leave before the lease is completed and are looking for someone to take their place.

!!! AS A GEC SPONSORED STUDENT, YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO FIND HOUSING BY GOING DOOR-TO-DOOR IN A COMMUNITY.

Utilities

  • Electricity: If utilities are not included in your rent, you will need to make arrangements with the local utility company that provides the electricity. The manager of your dwelling can help you with this or tell you who to contact. You will be responsible to pay for the utilities you use either directly to a utility company or sometimes to the manager of your building. Your usage is measured by an electric meter. Be sure to let the utility company know exactly when you will move in and when you will move out so that you are only charged for the utilities you use. Sometimes the gas or electric company will require a deposit from you before they establish service.
  • Water: The usage of water is usually included in the amount you pay for rent, but you should verify this with the landlord. It is safe to drink the water right from the tap in the U.S. In some areas, it may have an unpleasant taste due to minerals dissolved in the water.
  • Telephone: You will need to arrange for your own telephone service. Other charges Your lease should mention if other costs are included or will cost extra.