Carnegie Mellon University

Housing Policies

Adherence to the Housing Services policies is vital to a safe, fair, and enjoyable residential experience. Violation of these policies or those in the Housing Contract may result in administrative or disciplinary actions, which could include removal from university housing. Additionally, all students are expected to adhere to The Word and University Policies.

Students are not permitted to bring air-conditioners. To request housing in an air-conditioned space for medical reasons please refer to the Housing Accommodations page. While most Housing buildings offer air-conditioning, the following buildings are not air-conditioned: Mudge House, E-Tower, and Donner.

Bicycles are to be "walked" inside any residential building. Bicycle racks are provided in residential areas where appropriate. No bicycles shall be parked or stored in such a manner as to block entrance/exit from any building, to impede the normal movement of wheelchair users or others with special mobility needs, and/or to any interior or exterior stairway or railing. Storage of bicycles should not violate fire safety regulations. Such violations in residential buildings will result in removal and storage of the bicycle. Students may be charged a fine and storage costs. While every attempt will be made to not damage a bicycle while in the process of removal or storage, the university is not liable for damage to a bicycle removed because of a violation. To claim a bicycle removed from a residential building, contact Campus Police.

This information is in addition to the university policy on bikes. 

The Housing License Agreement covers fall and spring semesters only, typically mid-August through mid-December for fall, and early/mid-January through mid/late-May for spring. (See the Housing License Agreement for any given academic year for exact dates of occupancy.) The Housing License Agreement covers all break periods except for Winter Break and summer.

During Thanksgiving and fall and spring breaks, residents can stay in their rooms without extra charges, as all residence halls remain open.

During Winter Break, most residence halls close, but housing residents are allowed to stay in designated residential buildings (an additional fee applies.) Students in open buildings need to apply for Winter Break housing online and get pre-approval to stay. Residents will receive Winter Break information in late October or early November.

Summer housing is available for students who are attending summer school or students affiliated with the university and require housing for a period equivalent to a summer school session. An on-campus residence hall is selected each spring for summer housing. The minimum amount of time a student can apply for housing is one summer school session. There is a charge for summer housing.

The posting of notices, announcements or posters on bulletin boards in residence halls is restricted to recognized student organizations, individual Carnegie Mellon students and university departments/ programs. Bulletin boards in the living areas of residence halls are regulated by the Residential Education staff, while bulletin boards in other public areas are regulated by Student Government. Bulletin boards in individual living units are under the direct control of the Resident Assistant (RA) and the members of that living unit. Those wishing to disseminate information through these bulletin boards must follow the process managed by the Office of Residential Education. Information about the poster distribution process is available on this website under Resident Communication.  All postings on bulletin boards within the residence halls must comply with the Housing Services Solicitation Policy.

Cable television service is provided to all residents. Students must bring their own televisions and cable cords to connect to the outlets in their rooms. Students are not permitted to have individual or private cable service in University owned or operated housing.

In general, housing cancellations and refunds are not issued unless a student is leaving the university, due to leave a leave of absence, suspension, withdrawal from the university or studying abroad. Any student who is released from their housing contract will be assessed an administrative housing cancellation fee, which is a non-refundable fee. It is the student’s responsibility to contact Housing Services if they will not be returning to the university, or if they are a current resident taking a leave or withdrawing mid-semester.

Natural Christmas trees and greens are not permitted in university housing because of the significant fire hazard they create. Holiday decorations are permitted, but they may not use electrical lights or other devices that have not been approved by Underwriters Laboratories.

Students who want to paint a common area (lounge/study/recreation room/hallway) of a residential building must receive permission from Housing Services, coordinated through their Housefellow. All proposed projects will be reviewed and approved/denied by their housefellow and Housing Services. Once approved, the painting may begin. Appropriate creativity is encouraged and some communities have sponsored contests to identify designs. Contact your Housefellow for details and support.

As stated in the Housing License Agreement, each resident is responsible for any damages or losses that occur in the assigned living areas or to any of the furnishings therein and the residents may be charged the cost of any repairs, replacement or reasonable custodial service. Each student is, with the other residents, jointly responsible for whatever damage may occur, for any cause, to public and semi-public areas in the residence halls. All residents may be charged a prorated share of the cost of repairing public areas.

Cooking in residence hall rooms is strictly prohibited for health and safety reasons, with the exception of "compact" microwave ovens under 700 watts. Cooking is permitted only in areas specifically provided as kitchen areas, such as apartment kitchens and common area kitchens properly equipped by the university.  Prohibited appliances (see policy listed below) may not be used in any residential space including kitchens.  Housefellows may grant exceptions for programmatic use.

No electrical appliances that incorporate unshielded heating elements and/or draw more than 700 watts may be used in campus residence buildings, including student rooms, kitchens and all building common areas.

Microwaves, refrigerators, and Keurigs, as well as standalone rice cookers and electric kettles under the guidelines outlines below, are only permitted if they are 700 watts or less. Electric irons may be used only in areas where special utility outlets are provided, such as in designated utility or laundry rooms.

Prohibited items include (but are not limited to) any slow cookers, electric or traditional pressure cookers, hot plates, toasters/toaster ovens, coffee pots, induction cooktops, halogen lamps, space heaters unless provided by Housing Services and any electrical item not Underwriters Laboratory approved. If you are uncertain about whether or not an item is prohibited, please contact Housing Services prior to purchasing.

Electric kettles and standalone rice cookers are approved for use in residential kitchen spaces only and are not able to be used in student bedrooms or living areas that are not designated kitchen spaces; this includes in-room and community kitchen areas. The guidelines for use of these approved appliances include:

  • used in approved spaces only (i.e. designated kitchen spaces/ areas only)
  • be properly plugged directly into an approved wall receptacle (120V).
  • unplugged when not in use
  • not left unattended when in use
  • have an automatic shut off or boil dry protection
  • must be UL listed and labeled


Residents incur a penalty fee of $200 for violating fire-safety guidelines as established by Environmental Health and Safety. Furniture left in corridors that cannot be identified will be returned to storage by Housing Services facilities crew to avoid fire hazards. Per the Common Area Responsibility policy students may be charged for the removal and storage of these items.

Sprinkler heads and smoke detectors should not be tampered with, altered, or covered in any way. Residents should not hang any items from sprinkler heads.

The use of fire escapes for any reason other than emergency evacuation is strictly prohibited.

Visitors and guests are allowed in residence halls. At all times, residents are personally responsible for the actions of their guests. As a result, residents are responsible for any damage, physical or otherwise, to the community caused by their visitors. If the guests are Carnegie Mellon students, then they also accept responsibility for their actions.

All visitors or guests to a room are subject to the approval of all room residents. Over­night guests are not permitted for more than two consecutive nights.

Carnegie Mellon University does not discriminate in the provision of housing to students with disabilities. Carnegie Mellon will provide reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities who need special housing accommodations to ensure that students with disabilities receive comparable, convenient and accessible housing at the same cost as to other students. Carnegie Mellon will make reasonable modifications to its housing policies, procedures and practices when such modifications are necessary to avoid discrimination, unless such modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of the housing services provided by the University. Please visit the special accommodations page for full details about the housing accommodations policy, including applicable deadlines and forms required when requesting special accommodations.

Hoverboards are not permitted in all university operated housing (including residence halls, apartments, and Greek Houses). If you currently possess a hoverboard, we recognize that you may need assistance making shipping arrangements (due to postal regulations) or storing it until a later date. Should you find yourself in this situation, please contact your Housing Services Facility Coordinator (FC) as soon as possible.

Students are responsible for access gained through the use of their assigned access device. Access devices include keys, student ID card, or Mobile ID app. Swapping or sharing or copying these items is not permitted as your name data is associated with your assigned access device. Students found using or having in their possession any access device for any university doors or facilities that they are unauthorized to use or possess will be subject to disciplinary action.

Improper use of facilities will be construed as the occupation, alteration or use of university facilities that would create a potential fire hazard, safety hazard to any person or property, or potential danger to any person or property.

Authorized representatives of the university may enter resident accommodations at any time to inspect facilities or to carry out repairs and maintenance. The inspection of facilities will be conducted with at least 24 hours prior notice in writing whenever that notice can be reasonably given. If any Housing Services or residential life staff member enters a student room without a prior request or written notice, the student will receive a report documenting the time and purpose of entry. The university may authorize entrance to an accommodation if convinced that a clear and present danger or a violation of the university's regulations requires such entrance. (This regulation applies to campus housing as well as other university space.)

All mail and packages for all campus housing residents must be addressed and sent to the individuals Student Mail Code (SMC) box.  Mail and packages includes anything sent through the United States Postal Service, UPS, FedEx, DHL, Amazon Prime, etc.  No mail or packages of any kind should be sent directly to the street address of the residence hall or apartment building.  Housing Services bears no responsibility for the damage, theft, or removal of any packages that are sent directly to the building addresses. In order to ensure that your package and mail is safe and secure, you must send it to your SMC code address.

All mail and packages should be addresses as follows:

First/Preferred Name and Last Name
SMC ####
5032 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15289

Deliveries of food or groceries through a delivery service such as InstaCart or PostMates should only be placed when you will be present and available to accept delivery of your order.  Food or groceries that are delivered and not received directly by the resident may be removed and discarded as they create health issues and can attract unwanted pests.

Residents may bring their own compact microwaves to campus as long as they are under 700 watts.

Open flames or combustible/flammable materials of any kind, including (but not limited to) candles, incense, flammable liquids and gases, pretreated charcoal, fireworks and other such combustibles, are absolutely prohibited in university housing.

No signs, posters or banners of any size shall be hung outside or around any residential building, except upon special request. This applies to all residence halls, apartment buildings and houses as well as fraternities and sororities. Special consideration may be given, on request, for groups to use outdoor postings during university-wide special events. Requests for exceptions to this policy should be made to the Director of Housing Services.

Except as set forth below, pets and other animals are not permitted in any university housing facilities, including fraternities and sororities.  

  • Fish in an aquarium no larger than five (5) gallons are permitted in university housing facilities.
  • Emotional support animals may be permitted within a student’s personal living space in a university housing facility, with prior written approval from the Office of Disability Resources. An emotional support animal is an animal that is necessary to afford a person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling when there is an identifiable relationship or nexus between the person’s disability and the assistance the animal provides. Requests for accommodations regarding emotional support animals should be submitted to the Office of Disability Resources.
  • Service animals are permitted inside university housing facilities but may be prohibited from accessing certain environments where the presence of an animal presents a health or safety risk (e.g. kitchens, laboratories, sterile facilities, etc.). Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Student residents who wish to maintain a service animal in their dormitory must first contact the Office of Disability Resources for more information.

For more information regarding service animals and emotional support animals please visit the special accommodations page.

In addition, the following standards apply to service animals and/or emotional support animals maintained in university residence facilities:

  1. Any emotional support animal or service animal must be healthy and free of communicable disease. If appropriate for the animal, documentation of all veterinarian recommended vaccination must be provided to the Office of Disability Resources. New proof of vaccination must be provided before the previous proof of vaccination expires.
  2. Dogs must be properly registered with the City of Pittsburgh. Registration documentation must be submitted annually to the Office of Disability Resources.
  3. Emotional support animals are only permitted in the approved student’s private living space. Animals are not permitted in any public or common spaces within the residence facility, except as necessary to bring the animal into and out of the building as needed. Housing Services or the Office of Student Life may establish reasonable restrictions on how an emotional support animal is transported into and out of the building.
  4. Emotional support animals approved by the Office of Disability Resources for university residence facilities are not permitted inside other campus buildings. See The Word.
  5. Emotional support animals are not permitted in the private living spaces of other residents of the facility.
  6. The student is responsible for any damages caused by the service animal or emotional support animal in the student’s private living space or elsewhere.
  7. The student is responsible for the behavior of the service animal or emotional support animals, even when the student is not present in the living space.
  8. The student is responsible for providing appropriate care for the service animal or emotional support animal at all times, including the clean-up and disposal of any waste. Animal waste or bags containing animal waste cannot be placed in garbage chutes or common area trash cans.
  9. The service animal or emotional support animal may not be disruptive to the community. Disruptive animals may be removed.
  10. Emotional support animals must wear collars and identification tags at all times.
  11. Carnegie Mellon reserves the right to remove any animal that is not appropriately cared for. To ensure that appropriate care is available at all times, students are encouraged to establish a plan to care for the animal in the event the student is unable to do so (e.g. due to illness or emergency).   
  12. Carnegie Mellon reserves the right to establish other reasonable expectations or restrictions at any time to ensure the health or safety of the community.

Individuals with concerns or complaints regarding animals in residence facilities should contact a Resident Assistant or University Police.

Students are responsible for insuring their own personal property, including for losses due to fire, smoke, water and theft. The University is not responsible or liable for any loss or damage to the students' personal property and does not provide any property or liability insurance coverage for students' benefit. The University reserves the right to store at no liability for a limited period of time (for a period not to exceed 30 days), discard or donate personal property or any other belongings remaining in an accommodation after the accommodation has been assigned to another student or has not been vacated by a prescribed time. The University reserves the right to charge the student a fee for any storage of personal property or other belongings provided by it.

All residents have the right to determine the private activity that takes place in their assigned rooms. Members of the floor also have the right to determine community standards for the floor. Roommates have equal voice in determining the private activities of the room, and one roommate's rights must not infringe upon another roommate's rights.

At the beginning of each academic year, a layout of each lounge area and its contents will be inventoried and may be posted in the lounge. The furniture and contents of the lounge facilities should not be removed from the lounges under any circumstances without the expressed authorization of the building's Facility Coordinator. In addition to disciplinary action, student(s) found with common area furniture will be charged the standard hourly labor rate to return each piece to its proper location.

Quiet hours for all residential areas are 8 pm - 8 am on Sunday through Thursday nights, and Midnight - 9 am on Friday and Saturday nights. During finals week or reading days, 24-hour quiet hours will be in effect. For long vacation weekends, weekend hours will be in effect until the night before classes resume. Courtesy hours exist at all other times, during which the right of residents to live in an environment free from bothersome noise should be respected.

"Quiet" is defined as being unable to hear any noise at a distance of 10 feet from a room with a closed door. During "courtesy" hours, noise can be considered bothersome if it can be heard at a distance of 50 feet.

The notion of "courtesy" more broadly involves structuring your activities so that other people in your living unit are not adversely affected by noise. In particular, all residents are encouraged to carefully plan their use of sound equipment (such as stereos and TVs) or their social gatherings so that the noise produced by them does not infringe upon the rights of others.

The established quiet hours stated above are the minimums for every residential area. If you or anyone in your living unit believes that quiet hours should be extended, contact your Resident Assistant (RA) or Student Dormitory Council representative. That person has the authority to conduct a vote of the people living in your area and, pending unanimous approval, extended quiet hours will be implemented.

If you have concerns in relation to quiet hours or courtesy hours in your living area, please feel free to consult your RA. The RA is your primary advocate in situations involving noise violations and can assist you by addressing any questions or concerns you may have.

Residents may bring their own mini-refrigerators to campus as long as they are smaller than 4.3 cubic feet and operate on 110/120 VAC. Residents who do not remove personal mini-refrigerators upon checking out will have their student accounts charged $40 per hour for removal and $160 for refrigerator disposal/recycling. Refrigerators are limited to one per student.

In signing a Housing License Agreement, each resident agrees to abide by whatever regulations may be established by the university, Housing Services, the Residential Life staff, the Student Dormitory Council or the individual living units. Any resident student whose conduct does not meet the standards established for the university community may be denied the privilege of campus residency.

All residents of a room or apartment are equally responsible for the accommodation and its furnishings. At the end of each academic year, any damages to a student's room will be charged to the occupants of that room.

Students are not permitted to make permanent alterations to the furniture or structure of rooms or other residential areas. Prohibited actions include (but are not limited to) painting, drilling or nailing into the walls, and construction or renovations. Housing Services maintains a rotation schedule that allows for all residential areas to be painted and maintained on a regular basis. Students who make alterations to their room without authorization will be charged the cost of having the room professionally repaired. All decorations should be hung using removable temporary adhesives such as Command strips or painters tape and any additions to the room must be free standing and not blocking exits.

Housing Services is committed to safety, security and our residential community's quality of life. All building entry doors are locked 24 hours a day and right of entry is granted through access on an individual’s CMU ID card. Additionally, security cameras are located at the main entrances and high pedestrian traffic locations on building perimeters. The security cameras are not monitored live unless deemed necessary by CMU Police and recordings obtained with the use of the cameras will be exclusively accessed by CMU Police for safety and law enforcement purposes.

Recorded images will be stored for 30 days and will be erased unless retained as part of a criminal investigation, court procedure, or other necessary safety practice.

A list of camera locations may be available by written request to the Director of Housing Services or his/her designee.

All residential areas within the university housing system including Fairfax Apartments and Webster Hall are smoke-free living environments. This policy prohibits the smoking of tobacco or any other substance in residential areas. In accordance with Housing Services policies, residents must also abide by policies prohibiting the use of any open flame for any reason, including but not limited to the burning of candles, incense, etc. This designation not only includes the actual residents of the area, but also extends to their guests. As such residents will be responsible for ensuring that any violation of this policy will be reported to the proper authorities and any violations of this policy will be appropriately enforced. The Smoke-free Living Policy was developed through the efforts of students, faculty and staff to assist residents and their guests to maintain a residential environment, which minimizes their exposure to second hand smoke and its impact on the health of others.

Unauthorized sales and/or solicitation are expressly prohibited in any residence area. "Solicitation" is defined to mean any effort to ask for donations or contributions of money, goods or services. "Sales" are defined to mean any activity of offering a product or service in exchange for money, goods or other services. In exceptional cases, an individual or group seeking permission to be in the residential areas for the purpose of soliciting or selling must receive written authorization from the Director of Housing Services or his/her designee. In most cases, those recognized groups or individuals that receive permission to be in the residence halls will be restricted to tables reserved for such purposes in public areas or lobbies. 

Swimming pools, hot tubs, and any other item containing large amounts of water are prohibited because of the hazards associated with drowning, electrocution, water damage and the weight of large volumes of water. Because we cannot guarantee that all necessary safety precautions will be taken, students are not permitted to have or use items such as swimming pools, hot tubs, dunk tanks, or slip n slides in or around residential buildings. Reducing the size of the pool or tank does not remove the hazard. 

Unwanted room furniture cannot be stored during the academic year. Closet doors in rooms and apartments also may not be removed. Do not, under any circumstances, leave furniture in the hallway corridors. Rooms with missing furniture at the end of the academic year will be charged the full replacement cost for each missing item. This also applies to summer housing residents.

Waterbeds are prohibited in university housing because of the potential for significant damage to the residence halls and to students' personal property if a waterbed breaks or is vandalized.

In accordance with the University Deadly Weapons policy, deadly weapons are not permitted on any property owned or controlled by the university. Additionally paintball guns, pellet guns, airsoft guns and realistic replica weapons are prohibited in and around residential buildings. Residents and guests who qualify for an exemption as outlined in the University Deadly Weapons policy must also receive written approval from the Director of Housing services or his/her designee.

Students are not permitted to remove screens from their windows. Missing screens or screens that have been removed from windows will be reinstalled at the student's expense. 

No wire may be strung outside any living unit or any alterations made to any university residential building without the express permission of Housing Services. This includes satellite dishes, radio and television aerials.

In addition, no student or student organization may alter or tap into university utility lines, television antenna wires or cable lines without the express permission of Housing Services (in the case of resident facilities) or Facilities Management Services (in the case of other campus buildings).