Frequently Asked Questions

 

The Commons FAQs 
Frequently Asked Questions 
 

HOW TO APPLY 
Q.           What do I have to do to apply for an apartment? 
A.            Our process is simple!  Either click “Apply” on our website, or contact our office directly and we will walk you through the process.  This will give you instructions on our requirements.  PRIOR TO APPLYING, please be prepared to do the following:  
1. BE SURE ITS WHERE YOU WANT TO LIVE, as our applications are legally binding and you will not be released from obligations.  
2.  You will need to pay a $50 application fee for processing.  
3.  You will need to pay your security deposit at the time of applying which is $500 per person.  

**If you are a RENEWING resident (already living here) you do NOT have to pay a new application fee or deposit, as long as you sign your new lease before May 31 of the current year. We will simply transfer your deposit to your new account, and the application, application fee, and guarantor form will transfer from year to year as well** 
 
                WEBSITE URL: www.thecommonsofscranton.com 
 

Q.          What room options do I have? 
A.          You can choose either a shared bedroom in a shared apartment or a private bedroom in a shared apartment. It is more expensive to have a private room, and these are not guaranteed to be available. Once your lease is sent and signed by all parties, your room choice is then locked-in and contracted. 
 
We do not take requests on specific apartments, floors, or apartment stylesWe have two buildings – Chestnut and Walnut. Some apartments in them are 3 bedrooms and some are 4 bedrooms. All students are matched into their apartments on a first-come, first-served basis. We generally will have to waitlist "private" bedroom requests many months before the lease start date. If you would like a private bedroom and we are at the point of wait-listing, we will call or email you, OR the only option available online will be for a shared room. If you would like to be on the waitlist for a private bedroom, it is imperative that you let us know immediately. The only option to join the waitlist is to sign a lease for a shared room, and to be placed on the waitlist for a single. We will send you a form to sign as well, acknowledging that you are on the waitlist. If a private room becomes available while you are on the waitlist, we will contact you and send you a new lease to sign for a private room at the private rate. If this is not signed within 24 hours, we will have to move to the next person in line and withdraw the offer. When signing up for a shared room while on the private room waitlist, you must be prepared to live in a shared room. Again, if a private room becomes available and you are next on the list, it will immediately be offered to you with a new lease sent, and your rental rate will be increased to the private rental rate amount.  
 
Q.           What needs completed for me to be able to move in? 
A.           ALL OF THE ITEMS LISTED BELOW ARE REQUIRED TO BE HANDLED BEFORE MOVE-IN DAY, AND KEYS WILL NOT BE GIVEN TO ANYONE WHO IS MISSING ANY ITEMS. UPON COMPLETING AN APPLICATION, WE WILL EMAIL YOU THE INSTRUCTIONS, FORMS TO COMPLETE, AND DUE DATES FOR THESE ITEMS.  

1. You must have a completed Online Application with the Security Deposit ($500) and Application Fee ($50) paid in full 
These fees are part of the application and the application will not be considered “complete” until they are paid online. The Security Deposit IS refundable and will be returned to the resident via check within 30 days after move out. 
 
2. A lease will need to be signed. This will be emailed to you via Docusign for electronic signature and can be signed online once the application is complete. 
 
3.  A parent or guardian will need to be added to your application and also sign a guarantor form. This is required for all residents and will be emailed to you upon completing your application. This can be signed, scanned, and emailed back to us. If any information on the guarantor form is incomplete, it will not be accepted. 
 
4. Proof of Rental Insurance must be sent (explained in further detail below) 
 
5. Parking Form must be completed and signed 
 
6. The first month’s rent and the first semester utility fee are both due prior to receiving keys to the apartment, and before the due date that we will email to you. This is generally approximately 2 weeks before move-in day. 
 
It is important that you do not wait until move-in day to handle these items, as it is a busy day and we cannot guarantee accommodations or the ability to give keys on this day if all items are not complete by the due date given.  
 
Q.           Can I choose my roommates? 
A.            Yes.  If you are moving in and have someone else who wants to live with you, please have them apply online at the same time and be sure to send us an email immediately with your roommate preference. Roommate requests are not guaranteed, and are only available when applying early enough for us to pro-actively fit the roommate assignments. We often completely fill and are waitlisted, so generally when applying within 3-4 months of the lease start date, we may only have certain specific spaces left and cannot guarantee a roommate request. We do our absolute best to roommate-match, but obviously cannot guarantee that everyone will be a perfect fit, as that would require a crystal ball! Please note that once you live here and get to know everyone, you will likely form a group of friends (either inside or outside of your apartment) and you can request to live with each other for the following lease term! The earlier that you request your roomies and sign your lease, the greater the chances of landing your perfect roomies becomes! Most of our current residents start re-enrolling by during October of the previous year to ensure roommate requests. We recommend having any roomie requests in by December of the previous year at the latest. 
 
LEASE TERMS 
Q.           What are the lease terms? 
A.           The leases run August through May. The specific start and end date change yearly, depending on the academic calendar for the school. For example, in 2022-2023, the leases go from 8/13/2022 – 5/13/2023. 
We do not require a 12 month lease; this way you don’t have to worry about finding a sub-let or paying for renting in the summer if you would like to return home. Although, if you would like to stay through the summer to take classes or for any reason at all, we will allow it and even at a discounted rate!             
 
PAYMENTS 
Q.           When is rent due? / What is the payment structure? 
A.            Rent is due by the 1st day of each month. We collect the rent in 10 equal monthly installments to make it more manageable. For example, if your lease is for the amount of $6000.00 for a school year, you will pay 10 equal payments of $600.00. Rent is not pro-rated.  Understand that our leases are 10 monthly installment leases therefore you will pay 10 full monthly payments, or you can pay in full per year or semester. 
 
Q. What if I forget to pay my rent? 
A. We do give you a grace period to pay by the 5th of each month without late charges.  However, if rent is received after the 5th, your account is charged an automatic late fee until it is paid in full. 
 
Q. What is a Utility Fee and why/when do I pay this? 
A. The utility fee is to cover ALL utilities such as your heat, central air (if available), cable, internet, electric, gas, water, sewer, trash, snow removal, security systems, and lawn maintenance.  This fee is paid two times per 10 month lease at the beginning of each semester.  (Fee due with your August rent and fee due with your January rent). 
                With this, you will have no utilities in your name and will not have to worry about who’s name to put certain bills in. This alleviates late monthly payments that could harm your credit rating. We want you to focus on being a student! 
 
STARTING IN 2022, THE UTILITY FEE IS $695.00 PER PERSON, PER SEMESTER. THIS INCLUDES YOUR PARKING (WHICH WAS PREVIOUSLY A SEPARATE CHARGE), IF NEEDED. THERE IS NO DISCOUNT IF YOU DO NOT NEED PARKING.  
 
For those that would like a parking spot and/or parking pass, we require that a parking form be completed prior to move in day. The details of the due date of this form, as well as the form itself, will be emailed to you over the summer, before your lease start date. 
 
Q. What about Insurance? 
A. We REQUIRE that ALL tenants have rental insurance. This is for your protection! And luckily, it very affordable! 
 
We require that proof of renter's insurance be provided to the office prior to move in day. The details of the due date of this proof of coverage will be emailed to you over the summer, before your lease start date. 

Why buy renter’s insurance? 
Your landlord’s property insurance won’t help you if disaster strikes. It covers the structure, but not any of your things. Renters insurance covers your belongings from all the possible bad events that are listed in the policy, such as fire, smoke, water damage, windstorms, lightning, theft and even vandalism. Even if you don’t think your stuff is worth that much, renter’s insurance is a good idea. The cost of replacing just a basic wardrobe and only a few pieces of furniture adds up quickly. Plus, renter’s insurance covers more than your personal belongings at home. Here are some other things a policy can cover: 

  • Hotel costs after a disaster 

  • Medical expenses for injured guests 

  • Damage that you or your guests may cause others 

  • Legal costs if you’re sued 

  • Stuff you’ve rented or borrowed 

  • If someone breaks into your car 

Shopping for coverage: 
Decide how much renters insurance coverage you need before you buy. Purchase enough insurance to replace all of your belongings, plus consider the added options that allow you to get the above coverages. We require a minimum of $200,000 in liability coverage with ourselves listed as an additional insured. Remember to quotes from several insurers, including the company that provides your car insurance. You likely will score a discount if you buy renters and car insurance from the same company. 
 
Q.           How can I pay my rent? 
A.            We have a quick and easy process online.  When you apply for an apartment with us, you automatically have a “Resident Portal”.  This portal is extremely helpful!  From here, you can pay rent, look at your lease agreement and request maintenance all at one time!   When you submit a payment online, there is a $1.95 processing fee for online payments made with a bank account. Credit card companies charge various fees as well.  Otherwise, you can drop the rent off to our office.  OR, you can mail your payment to our office.  Keep in mind, if you are mailing the payment, late fees start on the 5th and we go by the date that the check is received, not the date that it is postmarked!  
                We accept payments with a credit card, debit card, check, e-check (bank account number), or money order. No cash. 
 
Q.           Can I pay the entire semester at once? 
A.            You absolutely can do this.  However, we like to try and lessen the burden and split the rent into 10 monthly installment payments.  
 
Q.           Can I use financial aid to pay for my housing? 
A.            Yes, you can use financial aid to assist in paying for housing.  HOWEVER, there are a few rules that we need to abide by because typically loan payments are not paid out until AFTER you are required to pay your rent.  You must clearly communicate to our office that you are waiting on your student loan and you MUST provide us with two things: 
 
1. A copy of your statement showing that you are waiting on the disbursement.  This statement must show that the refund you are receiving is greater than the amount that we are waiting to collect. 
 
2. Sign a Deferred Payment form 
Please know that if you are using aid, we need both of these items and cannot take one without the other. Additionally, we always need the security deposit and first month’s rent and utility fee to move forward, but future month’s rent installments (Ie.: Sept 1) can wait until the disbursement is made. 
Contact our office and we will walk you through this simple process! 
 
Q.           I have signed all of the forms for the Deferred Payment, why am I getting notices that rent is due and now I have late fees? 
A.            Our computer system automatically generates late notices if you have a balance on your account.  If you have followed all of the procedures for the deferred payment plan, understand that your account will continue to accrue late fees until the account is brought to a zero balance.  If all steps have been followed, once payment is received, we will then remove all late fees from the account.  
 
Q.           What happens if I don’t pay my rent, or I pay late? 
A.            We as the Landlord, have an obligation to the owner of the property to collect all rents and on time.  If you are not on a deferred payment plan your account will receive late fees that you will be responsible for.  (Please see above, When Is Rent Due)  If you have not paid your rent by the 14th of the month our office starts the procedures for filing a complaint with the local Magistrates office.  At the time we drop off paperwork to the Magistrates office for non-payment, we must pay a court fee to do so.  In exchange, we do charge YOU the court fees and you are responsible for the court fees once the paperwork has been filed.  You will then receive notification from the Magistrates office giving you a date and time for your court hearing.  It is highly recommended that you attend the hearing, so you fully understand what will potentially happen if you do not pay the rent. 
 
 
COMMUNITY 
Q.           Are there RA’s or Live-In staff? 
A. We have on-site staff who live here as well. Additionally, the office is open daily from 8AM - 4PM excluding weekends and holidays. 
 
Q.           What sort of events do you do for the residents? 
A.            We try to host approximately one event per month for our resident-guests. 
                Here are some examples of things that we have offered: 

  • parking lot party which included tons of pizza, sports, games, and give-a-ways 

  • movie nights 

  • potluck dinners 

  • video game nights 

  • pizza parties 

  • a parking space “chalk-out” 

  • contests in which tickets to concerts and PSU football games have been given away 

  • scavenger hunts 

  • complimentary coffee / hot chocolate bars 

  • bowling nights 

Plus many more to come! We love when residents recommend events and always try to cater! 
 
Q.           How do I know what is going on at the Community?  How is this communicated to me? 
A.           In order to apply for our apartments, you must have an email address.  PLEASE UNDERSTAND that our computer system sends ALL communication via email.  It is imperative that you check your emails on a daily basis.  IT IS ALSO IMPERATIVE THAT WE HAVE THE RESIDENT'S / STUDENTS EMAIL ADDRESS LISTED AS THE PRIMARY EMAIL ADDRESS (not mom's or dad's!) Mom or dad should put their email address under the "guarantor" portion of the application. If you made a mistake, please go back and adjust this now. We reserve the right to adjust this as needed, and by not following this standard procedure, you understand that you are risking missing critical communications that are sent directly to students and guarantors specifically when needed.  

We often announce community events, specials and other exciting things also on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/thecommonsofscranton and on instagram at @Thecommonsofscranton. SO don’t forget to like us so you can be kept up to date on all of the FUN STUFF!   Tell your friends to “Like Us” too, because not all giveaways are for resident guests only! 
 
Q.           Why do you recommend living at The Commons instead of commuting? 
A.            Being that the apartments are right on the edge of campus, it gives you easy access to all of the wonderful activities that PSU has to offer! Our residents always form a “community” bond and enjoy walking back and forth to class and events together. Our live-in interns will often go door-to-door to see if residents would like to attend events with them. It helps our residents to gain a solid core group of students to study with and rely on during collegiate times. 
 
Q.           Are there laundry facilities on site? 
A.            We provide laundry on-site. It is typically located in the building that the guest resides. The machines are coin operated. They cost $3.00 per load. 
 
Q.           What else do you have on site? 
A.            We generally have vending machines for drinks and beautiful outdoor gazebos. Sometimes with supply chain shortages, we cannot guarantee vending machines as these are provided by a third-party. 
 
Q.           Do you offer maintenance? 
A.            We have maintenance regularly at the property! You can submit a maintenance request anytime through the resident portal app on your phone, from your laptop or ipad, or even by calling the office! We also have a 24-hour maintenance emergency line! 
Maintenance Fees:  You pay for maintenance only if we make repairs due to your negligence.  Examples:  Holes in walls, holes in doors, damage to countertops, improperly disposing of trash (leaving it at your front door), lock out fees because you forgot your key, etc.  
                
Cleaning Fees:  This typically only applies at the end of your lease term.  If you do not follow our instructions on cleaning when you vacate, we do have contractors who will clean your room and the amount will be deducted from your deposit.  (Please refer to “Move Out Procedures”) 
 
THE APARTMENTS 
Q.           What size are the beds? 
A.            The beds are twin extra long.   
 
Q.           What furniture comes with the apartment? 
A.            Living Room:  Sofa, loveseat, end tables, Flat Screen TV, dining room table and chairs. The bedrooms have beds, wardrobes, desks and desk chairs.  
 
Q.           What appliances come with the apartment? 
A.            The kitchens are equipped with a stove, dishwasher, microwave and refrigerator.  This does not include pots/pans, utensils, dishes, etc.   
 
Q.           What do I need to bring with me to my apartment? 

A.            All of the apartments are equipped with the basic furniture and basic appliances.  You are responsible for your own linens, area rugs, kitchen items (pots, pans, utensils, dishes, etc), small appliances (toaster, coffee maker, etc) and any other article you would need to comfortably reside in your apartment.  Blinds are provided for the windows.  We suggest that you not install any additional window coverings as it may damage the drywall around the windows and you will be charged.  
 
Please see the below list for suggestions on what to bring 

  • Bed Linens 

  • Blankets 

  • Pillows 

  • Storage cubes 

  • Pots / Pans 

  • Utensils 

  • Dishes 

  • Paper towels 

  • Toilet Paper 

  • Napkins 

  • Dish Soap 

  • Hand Soap 

  • Toiletries 

  • Shower Curtain 

  • Bath Mats 

  • Small Rugs 

  • Hangers 

  • Dish Washing Detergent 

  • DVD Player or Movie Source 

  • Coax / HDMI cables 

  • Bath Towels 

  • Quarters for Laundry 

  • Hamper 

  • Laundry Detergent 

  • Toaster 

  • Coffee Maker 

  • Food / Beverages / Brita 

  • School supplies / bag 

  • Clothing / outerwear 

  • Chargers 

  • All Cleaning Supplies (Bathroom, Kitchen, Carpet, Stove Cleaner, Vacuum, Broom,  Lysol Wipes, etc) 

OTHER 
Q.           I have signed a lease and/or submitted my application but do not want to stay.  How do I get out of my lease? 
A.            Understand that by signing our application, you are legally bound to the terms and conditions of the lease agreement.  The only way to be released from responsibility of the lease term is to find a suitable replacement for your lease.  Please contact our office for complete details.  It is imperative that you understand we are not in business to release resident guests from responsibility and will file a Landlord/Tenant action against you for the full lease term.  
 
Q.           Do you offer co-ed housing? 
A.            If you do not have a roommate, we match you up with other Males or Females only.  The only exception would be if you found an entire group to live with and you came in all together to take an entire apartment.     
 
Q.           What if my roommate moves out, am I responsible for their lease? 
A.            No.  All leases are joint and several leases with individual rent responsibility.  What this means is that you are not responsible to pay your roommates rent if they decide not to.  
 
Q.           Are my roommates and I jointly responsible for anything? 
A.            You each have your own lease agreement, however any common space that is shared, you are jointly responsible for.  For instance, you all have access to the living room, kitchen and bathrooms.  Any damage and/or cleaning necessary in these spaces, you are ALL equally responsible for.  If you rent your own single bedroom, you are soley responsible for your bedroom.  If you share a bedroom, you and your roommate are jointly responsible for the bedroom.  
 
Q.           What do I do if my apartment is damaged when I move in? 
A.            Upon move in, you will receive a move in checklist.  This gives you the opportunity to go through the ENTIRE apartment being as detailed as possible on things that have happened prior to your arrival.  Keep in mind, this is not a brand new property and there will be some flaws.  You will have 5 days to return this to the office after taking occupancy.  We will review this list for any work order items and this list then remains on file throughout your stay with us.  It is then used as a tool when refunding your deposit that the office will check.  You will NOT be charged for damages/flaws which happened prior to your arrival if this checklist is returned to our office.   
 
Q.           Can I hang decorations on the walls? 
A.            You can hang items on the walls, but you must use adhesives that will not damage the walls when removed.  Small nail holes are permitted in small amounts, however no large screws or anything that can damage the walls.   Please remember, you will be charged for any damage above and beyond normal wear and tear. 
 
Q.           What do I do if I have a maintenance emergency? 
A.            If you are in need of emergency maintenance after hours, you can call (800) 724-6007.  Please note that this number is for emergency purposes only.   For non-emergency items you can log onto your portal and enter a work request, OR call our office and we can enter it for you! 
 
Q.           What do I do if I get locked out of our apartment? 
A.            If it is during office hours, please visit the office for access to your apartment. Otherwise, please call the maintenance emergency line at (800) 724-6007.   
 
Q.           I am MOVING IN, when can I? 
A.            In July, prior to move in, we will send out move in instructions which will include office hours, rent due and all of the other detailed information that you need!  Remember, KEEP CHECKING YOUR EMAIL, and LIKE US on Facebook as we often post announcements in these two areas! 
 
There are no exceptions to this date. You must get your keys on that day. If you cannot make it, keys can only be given during office hours and you waive many rights as a tenant of a shared apartment - such as the option to complete a damage checklist as your roommates have already taken possession of the apartment. 
 
Q.           I am moving out, what is the process? 
A.            Please refer to your resident handbook. As long as you follow these instructions on cleaning, have your rent paid in full and have not damaged the apartment, you will have NO problem getting your full deposit back!  If you have any concerns, we are here!  Stop by and we can talk! We also have a mandatory MOVE-OUT meeting each year that you are required to attend. 
 
You must turn in a "SURRENDER OF POSSESSION" form that includes your name, unit, forwarding address, and signature. With this form, you must also turn in all keys. We will not consider you "moved out" until both of these things happen.  
 
It is imperative to leave your apartment in a move-in ready, damage free, and clean condition for the next tenant.  

Please understand how charges are assessed at the end.  You are all equally responsible together for the common areas:  Living Room, Entry ways, Kitchen, Bathrooms.  If cleaning and or damages are noted in these areas, the bill that is received will be split equally amongst all residents who occupied the apartment.  As for your bedroom, if you are in a single room alone, you are fully responsible for all cleaning and/or damages in that room.  If you share a room, you and your roomie will be charged equally for the cleaning and/or damages to the room. We will not do ANY inspections of the apartment until ALL residents have vacated AND/OR the lease end date has passed so we can thoroughly inspect and video each apartment and are assured that there will be no more cleaning or repairs needed past what is found at this inspection.  

Refund / Inspection / Damage questions are only handled via email. Due to the legal deadlines and timeliness required by our staff to properly inspect, clean, repair, delegate, invoice, (etcall of these items and charges, we cannot be on the phones all day during this post-move-out time. We generally spend about 10 hours per day in the apartments, running for parts, etc and then return all emails as fast as possible. This has been the most efficient way to make sure that nothing is missed and that everyone has their deposit mailed back to them within 30 days of the lease end date.  
 
Lastly, I have more questions, help! 
Of course! Over the summer we will host a mandatorymove-in day meeting. This is often held virtually via zoom with an invite sent to all residents and guarantors. We also email all residents a handbook, as well as a copy of this video.  
 
Need an immediate answer? Shoot us an email to areese@thecommonsofscranton.com or give us a call at 570-207-0435. If we miss your call, as long as you leave a voice message we will get right back to you!