Monday, August 18, 2008

Finding a Rental in Bellingham - A Reader's Experience

The following is from an interested reader and speaks to the need for landlord licensing.

"When we first moved to Bellingham in 2001, we went to several rental agencies to try and find a house in which to live. Two professional adults were shown the most run down, decrepit houses unfit for living. The floors were cracked and rotting, the ceilings had large, gaping holes, the paint on the walls was peeling... Need I say more? When asked if the landlord/rental agent would be renovating, we heard guffaws and snorts. We were told that Bellingham was a student-driven market and that any house we wanted within our price limit would be a run-down rat-trap. My words, not theirs.

Our first rental was in Xenia Lane area. Not a pretty neighborhood. We tried to make it more livable, but the residents were not interested in keeping the space proper. Very loud, rampant and unattended children. Each person lives as he wishes. This is why we looked for a more pleasant neighborhood. As suggested by many, we moved. Luck us!

Since purchasing a condo, hoping for a quiet dwelling away from renters(!), we have seen the phenomenon of condo owners who rent out their property without a permit to rent. It is so much fun to live in a quiet community with 5-8 students who party all night. Whom do I call in these cases. I won't risk going over to complain to drunk students/young adults.

I was a student for about 9 years. I always lived near campus in a single apartment, campus housing, or a rental house meant for a couple. This was in Kansas.

Personally, I don't know that students should be all required to live on campus. The dorm rules can be a bit silly. They tend to treat students like 15 year olds. No boys in the room after 12 midnight. No alcohol in the room-even if you are 21. Get out fast during Winter Break. No coed living. These are some rules with by today's students are not ready to abide. They feel that are independent, young adults. They do not want the Resident Assistant watching over them like a child.

I believe that the university should move from the double dorm room or quad suite situation to more of an apartment/rooming house situation. I would recommend that freshman and sophomores live in a "traditional" residence hall and have Resident Assistants so that they have some similitude of guidance in their first and second years away from home. However, when students reach 20-25 years old, they should not be subjected to some of the more restrictive policies of the typical residence hall. I had this experience and I moved out of the residence hall after my 2nd year.

If the university could buy land and build basic homes (1-2 bedrooms) and apartments in 3 zones around town, near bus lines, or near the university, then the community would perhaps feel some relief from the current situation.

I read 6 months of your blog. Some of the posters feel very strong about your ideas-both for and against your purpose. I can see both sides as I have recently been a renter and now live in a purchased condo. I wish you luck and look forward to reading more."

The reader's experience is not unusual. See my blog entry Misrepresenting Single Family Home Rentals of 23 Oct 2007 (click here to read).

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