Off-Campus & Commuter Students

No Matter Your Habitat — Always a Wildcat!

Student Engagement serves and supports off-campus and commuter students at the Charlotte Campus in their academic and personal development. Through the off-campus support service (OCSS) program the office provides advocacy, assistance and services for students who commute to and from campus. Whether a student needs to find a resource on campus, help with navigating off-campus living or guidance any time from orientation to graduation, Student Engagement is the first point of contact for off-campus and commuting students.

Student Engagement is located in the Wildcat Center at 235 South Cedar Street, in the hallway behind the front desk.

On the Charlotte Campus, spaces for commuters include:

  • Commuter Lounge: Academic Center, Fourth Floor
  • Wildcat Center Den

Have questions about resources for commuters? Contact or 980-598-1375


Want to live off campus next term, but not sure where to begin? Use these resources to help you in your search, from rental basics and budget planning to understanding your rights and responsibilities as a renter, and essential services for setting up your new place.

Before You Move | Budgeting | Apartment & Roommate Search | Rental Checklists | Roommates 101 | Your Rental Rights | Utilities, Trash & Parking | Safety & Good Neighbor Policy

Before Moving Off-Campus

Once you decide to live off campus, you need to find a place to live. But where to start? The video below offers advice and tips for navigating the search for off-campus housing and making it a smoother process:

Before making the leap to living off campus, do some research. The Tips for Off-Campus Living PDF offers off-campus living advice, including the basics of looking for rentals, whether or not you want to live with roommates, how to gauge the safety of a particular neighborhood, etc.

If you need assistance or have questions, contact Student Engagement: Off-Campus Student Services at 980-598-1375 or email

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Students crossing a street near the Charlotte Campus.

Determine Your Budget

Before you start your apartment search, you want to establish a realistic budget that takes into account the following factors:

  • Maximum monthly rent you can afford
  • Ballpark utility costs: gas/water/electric
  • Weekly food costs
  • Parking/transportation expenses
  • Average entertainment expenses

You’ll also want to think about:

  • Do you need a furnished or unfurnished apartment
  • What neighborhoods are closest to campus?
  • Which ones can you reasonably afford?
  • Will you need to pay first, last and security up front?

Once you establish a budget, it’s important that you stick with it. Be smart about savings. Utilize the online resources in iGrad to help you be financially responsible.

Renter’s Insurance

Do you know if you’re already insured? Your parents’/guardians’ homeowners policy might include coverage on personal property away from home.

Call your insurance company to verify what would be covered in case of flood, fire, or theft, before you move into your apartment.

Not covered? Check with your primary insurance carrier.

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Three students walking together near campus

Apartment and Roommate Search

Important disclaimer regarding off-campus housing and rentals:

The listings on this webpage are offered as a courtesy to aid the Johnson & Wales University (JWU) community members in their search for off-campus living arrangements. JWU makes no endorsement and undertakes no inspections of, and assumes no responsibility for, the listed rental properties or landlords. JWU makes no representations or warranties regarding the fitness, condition, fitness, safety, or suitability of the properties listed (which it has not investigated or attempted to confirm), nor does it guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided (which it also has not investigated or attempted to confirm). JWU is not responsible for any liability or damage arising from the use of the information contained on this webpage and expressly disclaims any and all responsibility for any liability or damages associated therewith. JWU is not a party to any contractual or other legal relationship regarding housing arrangements made between students/faculty/staff and landlords and is not responsible for any lease or terms/conditions negotiated between or among the parties thereto. No information provided here or elsewhere creates a legal relationship between JWU and any students/faculty/staff or individual landlords regarding housing or any other matters unless such matters have been approved in writing by an authorized offer or representative of JWU. Any information provided does not constitute legal or financial advice; if you have a legal or financial question, you should seek the advice of legal counsel or a financial professional.

Rental Sites

Below is a short list of rental sites to help get you started with the apartment search:

Short Term Rentals

The following hotels and rental sites offer short-term rentals options (6 months or less). To view these options on the rental sites filter your search criteria to only show short term leases.

How to Find a Safe Neighborhood

In addition to finding the right apartment, it is equally important to ensure you are living in a safe neighborhood. Do your research using the crime statistics websites below:

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Student walking with the sun haloed behind the Academic Center.

Once You Find an Apartment

Once you find an apartment that interests you, make sure to connect with the property realtor or landlord and schedule a tour of the apartment.

During your tour it is important to take note of the condition of the apartment. When seeing an apartment for the first (or second) time, you want to thoroughly check locks, appliances, outlets, etc.

Bring these documents with you on every visit:

That way, you’ve got all the info you need when it’s time to make a decision.

Rental Listing Scams

Unfortunately, rental listing scams are real and you will need to be vigilant throughout the apartment search process and beyond.

Below are a few sites to reference. Pay attention to the signs and red flags that could indicate a potential scam. In addition, beware of sites that promote themselves as being affiliated with Johnson & Wales University. Notify Student Engagement (see email above) as soon as possible.

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The more roommates you have, the lower your share of the rent. But maintaining quality of life is equally important. Think realistically about how many people you are willing to live with, then factor that number into your budget.

Looking for a roommate?

Go to the Charlotte Commuter Students Group in jwuLink and post a comment to let other students know you are searching for a roommate(s) or to review requests for roommates.

Not yet a member? Log in to jwuLink > Discover > search Charlotte commuter students > Charlotte Campus > select JOIN GROUP. Once you have joined the group, you can begin your search. It’s that simple.

Find out if you and your potential roommate(s) might be a good match:

JWU Roommate Compatibility Worksheet (PDF)

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Leases and Your Rights as a Renter

Once you find that perfect apartment, your landlord will probably want you to sign a lease. BEFORE you sign anything, familiarize yourself with your rights as a tenant, as well as how to protect yourself from liability.

Understand Your Rights BEFORE You Sign

A lease is a legally binding contract, and the terms of the lease are agreed upon before move-in. The NC Landlord-Tenant Law (PDF) outlines the rights and responsibilities of the landlord and tenant as defined by law.

Both parties should realize that a failure to fulfill any or all responsibilities may lead to a liability to the other party. If you are one of a group of tenants occupying the same unit, check the wording of your lease carefully to determine whether or not you alone can be held responsible for the actions of one or more of your roommates.

Only sign the lease after fully reviewing and understanding the clauses in the lease. It is recommended that you have another adult such as, a family member review the lease as well.

The following fees and deposits may be required when signing the lease:

  • First month’s rent
  • Last month’s rent
  • Security deposit

In North Carolina, the security deposit cannot exceed the amount of one and one-half months’ rent if a month to month lease or two months’ rent for terms greater than month to month.

Apartment Condition and Repairs

Prior to signing a lease, make a careful inspection of the apartment, ideally with the landlord or his agent present.

The City of Charlotte (Mecklenburg County) has a Building Inspectors Department and a Division of Code Enforcement, which orders corrections of defects and sets a time limit in which defects must be rectified. In general, however, an apartment is being rented “as is” with all existing faults, and the rule of caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) holds true.

Generally, unless there is a written agreement or promise (covenant) obligating the landlord to repair the premises, he or she is not bound to do so. If the landlord does not agree, in writing, to make repairs by a certain date, you might want to reconsider renting the apartment.

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Utilities, Trash and Parking

Living off campus doesn’t just mean paying rent. You’ll need to set up electric, heat, cable and internet service — and that’s just for starters:


Basic utilities (water, sewer, gas and electric) can be set up by contacting the following:

Trash Pickup & Recycling

Your landlord must provide each apartment unit with:

  • One reycling bin: For glass, plastic, aluminum, paper & cardboard
  • One garbage bin: Non-recyclable items

Your recycling bins must be put out with your trash every other week in order for your recycling to be picked up. Have questions? Consult:


Parking rules are posted on signs along the streets where you can park. Rules can differ from street to street so be sure to take notice.

Visit the City of Charlotte Parking to learn more about street parking for yourself and/or a guest and residential parking permits. (Throughout Uptown, South End, Elizabeth, NoDa and Commonwealth Avenue in Plaza Midwood)

Parking on Campus

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JWU seal on the side of the Charlotte Academic Center

Safety Policies & Regulations

When you live off campus as a JWU student, you’re actually part of two communities: JWU, and the neighborhood in which you live. Being a good citizen of both is a major responsibility you undertake when you decide to live off campus. Learn more below:

JWU’s Good Neighbor Policy

Off-Campus Safety

When living on your own, it’s important to be prepared. Here are some tips for staying safe in your apartment and out in the city.


Charlotte’s noise ordinance states that citizens (your neighbors) have a right to enjoy a reasonable level of peace and quiet, free of unnecessary, excessive or annoying noise.

Reduce noise levels between 9pm-7am (including weekends).

This includes but is not limited to loud gatherings, stereo or TV noise, instruments, machinery, dogs barking, etc. Charlotte Police enforce this law and will respond to violations and complaints.


As a tenant you are responsible for putting out your trash. The city trash ordinance stipulates that trash cannot be put out before dusk on the day preceding pickup. Violations of the city trash ordinance are punishable by a fine.

Put your trash in covered containers and tie up bundles. Trash bags are not considered trash containers — they can easily tear due to overfilled contents or because of animal activity. Be sure to secure your trash so that it doesn’t blow away.

Social Gatherings

If you host a social gathering at your place of residence off-campus, it is important that you be familiar with North Carolina’s Social Host liabilities. In N.C., the courts recognize a cause of action under the common law theory of social host liability. You cannot serve alcohol to or permit consumption of alcohol by anyone under the age of 21 or serve alcohol to intoxicated people when you know they will be driving afterwards.

Want to live on campus?

Get started in jwuLink →