Once you have found housing and signed your lease, this page is for you! Here we’ll provide you with information about what to do now that you’re in the process of moving in. We can help you with move-in needs such as information about renter's insurance, furnishings, budgeting, shopping, moving services, and much more.


The Utility Deposit Assistance Program (UDAP) is a JMU sponsored program that protects your credit rating and allows you to get utility service connections without a deposit.  JMU becomes your guarantor for payments up to specified limits: $200 for gas, $300 for electric for HEC, $600 for electric for SVEC and $185 for water.  Visit Student Gateway to purchase your UDAP contract or contact Off-Campus Life for further information and instructions.  You can also visit the JMU UDAP Informational Page for more information about the program.

If the apartment or home you live in has more than one meter to measure utility usage, make sure to stop by Off-Campus Life to complete a multi-meter contract.  OCL can help you fill out this contract and send it to your utility companies.

Setting Up Your Utilities

When you first move in, there are several utilities that you might need to have connected, depending on what type of housing you are in.  Click each item to jump to information on that utility:


If you are moving into a house, apartment or business with an existing service, in most cases all you need to do is stop by the billing office and pay a deposit. Water and sewer services can be connected the day the deposit is made, or one day later. Water services are generally turned on during business hours.

When visiting the billing office to pay your deposit, please bring the following:

  1. Lease.
  2. Your address.
  3. Telephone number.
  4. Social Security number.
  5. JMU students should bring the Utility Deposit Application Payment (UDAP) contract.

More Information: Harrisonburg Water and Sewer


Get your electricity connected by opening an account with Harrisonburg Electric Company (HEC).

Harrisonburg Electric Company

89 West Bruce Street

Harrisonburg, VA 22801


Harrisonburg Electric Commission


Harrisonburg customers typically use the following companies:

Access Media 3: http://www.am3inc.com

Basic Talk: http://www.basictalk.com

Cable.TV: http://www.cable.tv

Comcast: http://www.comcast.com

Direct TV: http://www.directv.com/city/harrisonburg-va

DISH Network: http://www.dish.com

Exede: http://www.exede.com

HughesNet: http://www.hughesnetinternet.net

Verizon: http://www22.verizon.com/home/verizonglobalhome/ghp_landing.aspx


Depending on where you live, there are two options for gas services.  Check these websites to see which you need to use.

Natural Gas Service:

Columbia Gas




Propane Gas Service:





Trash pickup begins automatically for residents living on public streets.
Additional information: http://www.harrisonburgva.gov/trash
Fees: http://www.harrisonburgva.gov/trash-collection-fees
For trash pickup questions call the Public Works Department at 540-434-5928.
*If you live on a private street or in an apartment complex please inquire with your home owner’s association or property manager.*


The City encourages residents and businesses to become a part of Harrisonburg’s recycling program.
If you need a recycling bin or have questions, please call 540-434-5928.
Accepted items: http://www.harrisonburgva.gov/residents-recycling-guide

Useful Downloads

Roommate Agreement

OCL offers a sample Roommate Agreement Form (PDF) that can be used as a template for creating one for your own living situation.  This is a great way to divide tasks, talk about utility payments, etc.

Damage Checklist

Many apartment complexes and property managers will supply you with a damage checklist when you move in, but if they don’t we have a Sample Damage Checklist (PDF) you can use and have your landlord sign to keep both of you accountable.
*When completing a damage checklist, be sure to take pictures of any damages for documentation. This will help you avoid future fines related to damages for which the previous residents were responsible.*

Need to Rent a Trailer?

Have a lot to move?  A trailer could be your solution.   Harrisonburg has multiple venues that offer trailer rentals and drop offs.  Check out this link to google maps to find out you who you can rent from and where!


Leasing Info

When you sign a lease, you are entering into a legal contract, so make sure you read the document and know what you are signing.

Beware because the terms and provisions of your lease legally bind you.  By signing the lease, you are legally stating that you know what it says and are willing to abide by all the rules in it.

  • Carefully examine the lease
  • Ask for a copy so you and/or your family can review it more thoroughly
  • Some leases are very restrictive.  Be aware because you are responsible for knowing exactly what the lease says and means.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask the landlord about clauses and terms that you don’t understand. You can also consult with someone at OCL.
  • Agree on any changes, additions, or provisions with your landlord and make sure these are stated in the lease before signing on the dotted line.
  • If it includes a provision or clause you want to remove, it’s okay to ask the landlord about it.
  • Make sure it is all in writing and all parties involved sign, date, and keep a copy.

A lease is a legal document.  No matter how your situation may change, you are financially responsible the minute you sign the lease.  Make sure you understand the type of lease you’re signing. Below is a description of some common lease types.

An individual lease is when you sign for a single room, meaning you are individually responsible for paying rent and any damages to that room.  You also sign for a share of the living area/ other common spaces.

Pro:  If a roommate moves out, you are not responsible for his/her rent or damages.

Con: The landlord can put anybody (male, female, non-student) in the empty bedroom without your approval.

A group lease is a lease signed by all occupants, making the entire group responsible for damages and paying the full rent.

Pro: Your group has control of who may move into an empty bedroom.

Con: If a roommate backs out, the rest of the group must make up the difference in cost.

Always ask questions and make sure you fully understand the entire document.  Off-Campus Life is more than willing to go over any leases with students and help them to better understand what they are signing.

Leaving half-way through the semester and need to find a person to take over your lease?   Learn more about subleasing.

Deposits – What to Expect

All apartment complexes require a security deposit, which in most cases is equal to one month’s rent.  This deposit covers expenses on the complex’s end when repairs must be made in the apartment.  OCL provides a “damage checklist” which you can take into your apartment when moving in to write down any current damages.  This will ensure that you are not charged for damages that were not caused by you, and you get your full deposit back.


Whether you are looking for an apartment, signing a lease, already moved in, or on your way out safety is a major concern!  Below is a list of tips on how to make your apartment a safe environment so that you can enjoy your time living Off Campus to its fullest!



  • JMU has created a Safety Task Force to analyze possible solutions and changes to be made to keep the community safe.
  • Public Safety has 4 officers assigned to off campus patrols, not including the 25 officers assigned to on campus patrol.
  • Safety escorts are available to any student on campus, free of charge.  Escorts are provided by carefully screened and trained student employees known as the Campus Police Cadets. Cadets are on duty 7pm – 2am Sunday-Wednesday, 9pm-2am Thursday, and 9pm-3am Friday and Saturday.  Police officers will provide any escorts outside of those time periods.
  • JMU SafeRides is a student run, non-profit organization whose mission is to create a safer community for the city of Harrisonburg. Members work to prevent drunk driving by educating JMU students, fundraising to help support our mission, and providing free rides home for JMU students. If you are a JMU student and need a ride home over the weekend, please feel free to call us at 540.JMU.RIDE (540.568.7433)! No matter where you are in Harrisonburg, we are here for you!
  • Public Safety offers educational crime prevention opportunities throughout the year.
  • Timely Notifications are issued by the James Madison University Police, giving notice of acts that could pose as a Possible Threat, that reportedly occurred on or near the campus of James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia. Until the investigation of the specific act has been concluded, it can be assumed that conditions continue to exist that may pose a threat to members and guests of the community. It is the duty of the institution to warn of possible “dangerous conditions” on its property; an “affirmative duty” exists to warn of possible peril at the hands of some third party.



Secure your property

  • Utilize door locks whenever possible.  If you have lost a key, please contact your property manager to receive a replacement.
  • Close and lock all windows and sliding glass doors.  Place wooden dowel in sliding glass door track.  (You can purchase wooden dowels at a local hardware store.)
  • Utilize blinds and shades, especially at night.
  • Place all valuables out of site when parking your vehicle. Secure them in the trunk and lock your doors.  Try to leave vehicle parked under a light.
  • Call the police, if uninvited guests won’t leave.


Host a safe party

  • Report suspicious people or activity immediately to the police. Be a witness, don’t be a hero.
  • Register your party with the Harrisonburg Police Department – 540.434.4436.  Instead of sending an officer out for the first noise complaint, HPD will call the host to correct the problem.
  • Have a guest list – know who is in your home.
  • Call the police, if uninvited guests won’t leave.
  • Have a sober host on the premises at all times.
  • Keep it small. Be aware occupancy limits. Beware of overcrowding wooden decks.
  • Lock doors to private areas (i.e. bedrooms) and secure or hide valuables.
  • Limit the alcohol consumption of guests.
  • Provide non-alcoholic beverages and food.


When attending a party

    • Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable, leave the area.
    • Report suspicious people or activity immediately to the police. Be a witness, don’t be a hero.
    • Stay with friends. Look out for each other.
    • Know the hosts of the party you are attending.
    • Drink responsibly.  Do not drink to excess.
    • Secure a safe way to get home, such as a bus, taxi or JMU SafeRides (540.568.7433).
    • Carry only the ID and money you’ll need for the night.
    • Be considerate of others and respectful of property.

Traveling by foot

      • Use well lit and well-traveled areas: Avoid dark and deserted areas, such as railroad tracks, or shortcuts.
      • Do not walk or jog alone.
      • Utilize the sidewalk at all times.  If there is no sidewalk and you must walk in the roadway, always walk facing traffic.
      • Do not approach an unknown car if it follows your, or the driver beckons you while you are walking. Instead, turn and quickly walk the opposite direction.
      • Do not resist or attempt to fool a robber.

Other tips

      • Do not make it easy for thieves. They are on the lookout for items left unattended. It takes only seconds to grab your property and get away.
      • Use common sense.  Trust your instincts and listen to that gut feeling.
      • Report all crimes: When reporting a crime or suspicious activity, give the dispatcher all the information you have. If the crime is occurring during your call, stay on the line until the officer arrives.


Report Suspicious Activity Immediately

      • Look out for your neighbors and call the local police immediately if you observe suspicious activity.

JMU Police 540.568.6913

Harrisonburg & Rockingham County Police (Emergency Communications Center)   540.434.4436

Call 911 for EMERGENCIES!


For additional public safety information visit JMU Public Safety’s Website.

To see a comprehensive list of JMU Timely Notifications visit Public Safety’s Incident Listing page.

To see reports on criminal activity throughout Harrisonburg visit the Crime Reports website.

Follow us on Facebook at JMU Off Campus Life for more tips.

Moving In

Once you’ve chosen where you’ll be living off campus, you’ll have to make some other decisions before moving in.  These decisions include whether or not you will purchase renter’s insurance, how utilities will be connected and managed, how you’ll furnish and purchase other needed supplies for your place, and how you’ll get all your stuff moved in.  This section will give you the information you need to move in like a pro.

Renter’s Insurance

One decision that you will need to make as you move off campus is whether or not you will choose to purchase renter’s insurance.

What is Renter’s Insurance?

Renter’s insurance provides you, the tenant, coverage for loss or damages to property, etc. if there is an incident in your apartment or on the apartment property that leads to this damage.  Many tenants believe their personal belongings are insured under their landlord’s policy and any injuries sustained in their rental unit will be the responsibility of the building’s owner.  However, this is not the case.  The apartment you live in is likely insured for structural damage, but this does not include insurance for your personal property such as furnishings, clothing, your car, etc.

Events Covered By Renter’s Insurance:

Below are some examples of events usually covered by renter’s insurance:

-The building catches on fire and your belongings are damaged.

-An electrical power surge damages your computer, TV, or stereo.

-Personal property is damaged, destroyed, or stolen.  You accidentally damage another person’s property.

-Someone sustains an injury in your apartment.

Renter’s Insurance Providers:

Some landlords will require you to have a renter’s insurance policy of some type and to provide them with proof of this policy prior to lease signing or taking possession of your apartment.  If you are required to have this insurance or choose to have it, you will first want to check with your parents about any homeowner’s insurance policy they may have.

Sometimes dependent students are covered as if they had renter’s insurance under their parent’s homeowner’s insurance policies.  If this is the case, you will not need to purchase an independent renter’s insurance policy.  If not, however, you’ll need to find a policy and will want to compare rates and coverage.  Also, before purchasing a policy, you’ll need to have a good estimate of the total value of the items/ personal property that you want to insure.

Renter’s insurance rates typically start around $100-$120 a year depending on coverage options.  Call an agent to find out about different coverage options. Here are some options of renter’s insurance providers in the Harrisonburg area:

  1. Geico Insurance     (540)-568-1844
  2. LD&B Insurance and Financial Services (540)-433-2796
  3. Blue Ridge Insurance Services (540)-437-9030
  4. Allstate Insurance (540)-434-3950
  5. State Farm (540)-433-1916
  6. Farmer’s Insurance (540)-438-5862
  7. Nationwide Insurance (540)-434-8388

Furnishing Options

Though many student housing locations are furnished, there are some unfurnished off campus housing locations in the area.  You may also prefer to live in an unfurnished location in order to use some of your own furniture if you have it.  If you do decide to rent an unfurnished apartment or home, below is some information on a company which offers furnishing packages for a monthly rental fee:

CORT Furniture Rental

15000 Conference Center Drive

Suite 440

Chantilly, VA



*You may also want to check with your landlord or leasing agent about any furnishing packages offered as some housing providers allow you to purchase furnishing packages for an additional monthly fee included in your lease.*