Wednesday, November 5, 2008

WWU Reneges in Part on Rental Advertising

While out of town the past several weeks, I received this message from Mr James Schuster, the Director of Viking Union Facilities.

-----Original Message-----
From: Jim Schuster []
Sent: Monday, October 20, 2008 3:55 PM
To: richard conoboy; Daniel Larner
Subject: FW: "3-unrelated" ads

We have decided to continue posting ads for multiple bedroom housing. We wish to continue to meet the needs of those families requiring more than three bedrooms. We will also post, both on the bulletin board and on-line, reference to the "Rule of Three" zoning ordinance and that renters should be aware of their liability under the ordinance.


James H. Schuster

Director of Viking Union Facilities

My readers may remember my post of 29 September entitled WWU Action on Rental Advertising (click here to read that entry) where I explained that the responsible official, Mr. Schuster, told me that the university would eliminate advertising of illegal rooming houses. The message above announces an effective reversal of that decision.

I am curious about those families described as having a continuing need for more than three bedrooms. Just who are these families? Perhaps there are some faculty members who might want to seek such housing, however, I have searched the WWU website for mention of the availability of the housing referral list to faculty and have found no indicators to faculty, save at the the entry to the housing list through the Viking Union portal. Were I a faculty member, I would probably not seek out a housing referral site listed by the Student Union and established primarily for students when there exists an abundant number of rentals that can be found through reputable real estate agents and the Multiple Listing Service.

To give credit where credit is due, Mr. Schuster did make good on his commitment to post warnings on the Viking Union bulletin board (click on the photos at left) and the on-line housing referral site at the Viking Union web page. (click here to see that admonition to student renters). Homes with more than three bedrooms are now to be hidden under the general rubric of larger family homes. (click on the image at right) Unfortunately, the portion of the site at which the landlords post their on-line listings, there is no such admonition regarding illegal rooming houses although it does warn that the landlord be aware of local laws regarding discrimination. The university should make the local law clear to landlords as well. Notably, WWU is keeping its legal distance from the housing rental referral list by disavowing responsibility for the reliability of the information, for the condition of the housing or for contractual agreements. (Click on photo below to read this disclaimer) Perhaps the uncontrolled, unregulated and unlicensed rental market in Bellingham has given them pause – as well it should.

The practical effect of WWU’s retreat on this issue remains to be seen as this is not the high rental season and the number of actual rental offers posted on the Viking Union bulletin board and on its web pages is negligible. My sense is that the students, as well as the landlords, will continue business as usual, although I remain open to being surprised.


Mick said...

How ironic that you only post where courts ruled the way you saw fit. I am sure you saw just as many that ruled against this kind of ordinance, or do you just choose to ignore those. After all this is America

zonemaven said...

Dear Mick,

Thanks for taking the time to comment. It would be helpful if you were to provide me and my readers with links to information on such court cases so that we might discuss this based on the court cases you have found. There are many reasons that court cases fail, some of which have nothing to to with the merits of the case but with jurisdiction, statutes of limitations, etc.