User login

Close
 

Off-Campus Housing Assistance (OCHA) Policy

Effective Date: September 1, 2006

Policy Statement

The OCHA Office helps students, faculty, staff, alumni, and other affiliates of Columbia University ("Columbia") find rental housing in non-Columbia buildings in the metropolitan area. The OCHA Office maintains an online searchable database known as the Housing Registry for owners, brokers, management companies and tenants to list apartments and rooms for rent.

Reasons for the Policy

The OCHA Office maintains this service primarily to assist students, faculty, staff, alumni, and other affiliates of Columbia who are not assigned to or do not want to live in Columbia housing.

Primary Guidance to Which this Policy Responds

There is not a primary policy to which this policy responds.

Responsible University Office & Officer

The Department of Residential and Commercial Operations of Columbia University Facilities is responsible for the maintenance of this policy and for responding to questions posed regarding this policy. The Associate Vice President of Residential and Commercial Operations is the Responsible Officer.

Revision History

This policy was established on August 29, 2006.

Who is Governed by this Policy

All users of the services are governed by this policy.

Who Should Know this Policy

All users of the services should know this policy.

Exclusions and Special Situations

None Policy TextThe OCHA Office helps students, faculty, staff, alumni, and other affiliates of Columbia in their search for rental housing in non-Columbia buildings located in the metropolitan area.

Disclaimer Policy

Columbia does not screen listers (owners, brokers, management companies, or tenants) nor does it inspect or "approve" the accommodations listed in the Housing Registry, and, thus, cannot verify the accuracy of the descriptions of any of the listed accommodations. Listing of accommodations does not constitute a recommendation of any lister or accommodation by Columbia and Columbia assumes no responsibility whatsoever in connection with the rental agreement between the tenant and the landlord.

The OCHA Office reserves the right, but does not have the obligation, to remove or modify any listing for any reason. All listings in the Housing Registry should comply with any applicable Columbia policies and procedures as well as any otherwise applicable city, state, and federal statutes and regulations, including those governing equal opportunity and non-discriminatory access to housing. The Housing Registry will not knowingly include a listing that violates such policies, procedures, statutes and regulations.

Fee Policy

The OCHA Office offers its services free of charge. The OCHA Office does not act or operate as a real estate or rental agency. Some of those listed in the Housing Registry, however, may charge fees such as commissions and application fees. Listers who charge a fee to rent their units must clearly disclose it along with the amount when placing the listing. Listers who charge a fee without clearly disclosing it, will have their listings cancelled and will not be allowed to list apartments or rooms in the future.

Eligibility to Search the Housing Registry and Use Services

Students, faculty, staff, alumni, and other affiliates of Columbia University, Barnard, and Teachers College may use the services of the OCHA Office. Students of Jewish and Union Theological Seminaries who are currently cross-registered at Columbia are also eligible.

The Housing Registry can be accessed with a UNI and password. Those who visit the OCHA Office must bring: current Columbia identification; letter of acceptance/appointment; proof of employment; or current alumni card.

Eligibility to List Rooms or Apartments in the Housing Registry

Anyone is free to list available housing with the OCHA Office provided he/she: 1) agrees to abide by any applicable Columbia policies and procedures as well as any otherwise applicable city, state, and federal statutes and regulations, including those governing equal opportunity and non-discriminatory access to housing and 2) is authorized to rent the accommodation.

The Housing Registry does not include listings of Columbia-owned or Columbia-assigned accommodations. Anyone who wants to sublease their Columbia accommodation must do so in the Subletting Registry database and not in the Housing Registry database.

Responsibilities

The Associate Vice President of Residential and Commercial Operations is the Responsible Officer for reviewing and maintaining the policies and procedures of the OCHA Office.

Definitions

Listers: anyone or any entity placing a listing in the Housing Registry database, including landlords, owners, real estate brokers, management companies, or tenants.

Cross References to Related Policies

University Apartment Housing (UAH) Subletting Policy

Students, faculty and staff may apply to UAH for permission to sublet their UAH accommodations. The OCHA Office oversees the subletting application and approval process for students as well as the Subletting Registry database. Faculty & Staff Housing personnel oversee the subletting and approval process for faculty and staff. To facilitate the subletting process, UAH maintains a searchable Subletting Registry database exclusively for students, faculty and staff to list their UAH accommodations. This database is separate from OCHA's Housing Registry database which does not accept listings of Columbia accommodations.

Counseling Procedures

OCHA staff members are available during office hours to assist with the search for rental housing. Staff respond to in-person, telephone and email requests and also conduct apartment hunting workshops for groups upon request. Information can be found at www.columbia.edu/cu/ire/ocha in both written and video formats and searchers are encouraged to use this resource. Topics covered include, the importance of written lease and roommate agreements, verifying that a lister is authorized to rent the accommodation, types of rentals, methods of accommodation searching, the relevance of location, transportation issues, the timing of an accommodation search, and financial considerations.

Housing Registry Searching Procedures

Searchers need a Columbia-issued UNI and password to gain access to the Housing Registry database which can be accessed through www.columbia.edu/cu/ire/ocha.

Searchers who do not have a UNI and are a newly accepted student, alum may contact the OCHA Office with a letter of acceptance or offer, current alumni card, diploma or library reading card in order to be issued a user name and password to search the database

Searchers can create one or more search profiles and receive email notification whenever new listings match the profile. Searchers contact the lister by telephone or email.

Housing Registry Listing Procedures

Listings are displayed on the internet in the Housing Registry. The most efficient way to submit listings is by establishing an online account. The OCHA Office provides assistance to those who do not have access to the internet.

To establish an account to post listings online, listers call the OCHA Office at 212-854-2773. Staff screen callers over the telephone to verify that they are authorized to list the accommodation and to explain the applicable procedures and policies. The OCHA Office assigns a user name, password, and posting password to the lister. The lister is advised to save this login information because it is valid for future use.

Once a lister has a login, he/she can follow the online instructions for listing a unit. The listing appears on the internet within one to two business days. All listings are posted for three weeks or until the lister removes or directs removal of the listing or, the OCHA Office determines, in its sole discretion, that the listing should be removed. Listings may be renewed, removed or modified at any time directly by listers with online accounts.

Listers have a choice of being contacted by email, telephone or both by potential tenants. Email addresses are kept confidential. A potential tenant will only be able to see a lister's email address if the lister writes back to the potential tenant.