Monday, September 29, 2008

WWU Action on Rental Advertising

Western Washington University's Viking Union (VU) is taking action on advertising rentals for property whose terms violate the Bellingham City Code (BMC) regarding the number of unrelated persons (3 maximum) who can inhabit a single family home. Until this year, ads for such rentals were posted on the VU bulletin boards (with VU approval) and were listed on the WWU off-campus housing registry site. (Click here and here to read my blog entries on the subject)

Late last week, I spoke on the phone with Mr. Jim Schuster, Director of Viking Union Facilities, who said that these changes have already been made on the VU bulletin boards where ads for rentals whose terms are in not in accord with the BMC have been removed. A sign indicating that such ads will be taken off is also posted as a warning, according to Mr. Schuster.

In addition, a notice regarding ads whose terms violate the code will also be posted on the Viking Union off-campus housing registry website. Ads from landlords which propose rentals violating the code will no longer be accepted. This policy may take a bit longer to put into place as the website is updated by a third party.

This is encouraging news as it sends a message, not only to landlords, but to the students, that an atmosphere of permissiveness which had permeated the illegal rooming house problem is no longer acceptable. I will continue to monitor compliance by the VU.

On the other hand, unfortunately, I have yet to hear from the responsible persons at the offices of the Western Front, the student newspaper, which has also accepted similar rental advertising at least as late as last spring. Recent editions of the newspaper have not included such advertising, however, this is no longer the period in which students are seeking housing, so a dearth of such ads may be a function of the market and not of a policy of the newspaper not to accept them.


Anonymous said...

Why do you care? They're just broke college students trying to cut the cost of living anyway they can. Most neighborhoods occupied by these students are not located in family friendly neighborhoods anyway. So stop fretting over all the students who are trying to get an education and just be happy the houses aren't being turned into Fraternities. Relax a little, you'll live longer. :-)

zonemaven said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thank your for your concern about my health and longevity. :-)

I care about the university students and low income wage earners who are getting a raw deal from landlords in a market in which anything goes. I find it lamentable that students are placed at risk in an uncontrolled rental market where neither safety nor health seems to be of concern to the city.

There is also the notion of adherence to the law. Advertising of that which amounts to illegal rentals should not be permitted for reasons having to do with appreciation of the rule of law. The university, in its role as an educational entity, should not countenance or promote actions of a scofflaw nature. Nor should the city, for convenience sake, ignore its own codes and thereby selectively enforce them. Selective enforcement is known legally as non-feasance and is, in itself, a violation of the law.