Sunday, April 14, 2013

10,000 Students as a Political Force on Rentals

The Western Front editorial board released this week an opinion piece entitled "Rental Licensing Is a Student Issue".  [Click here to read the editorial in its entirety.]  Two former editorial boards also wrote of their support for rental licensing in 2011 and 2012. See these editorials by clicking here.  The present board of this student newspaper said:

"The complaint-based system doesn’t work. Tenants cannot be expected to have adequate knowledge of the building codes or the legal know-how to hold their landlords accountable. Without requiring rental licensing and mandatory inspections, there is nothing prompting landlords to keep their properties in safe and livable condition."

Students ought to know, partly from their experiences in renting in a town with a no-holds-barred rental market and partly from the the results of several student initiated surveys, one in 2011 and the other this past week.   [These surveys can be found by clicking here and here.] 

The editorial went on:  "The rental licensing issue is a student issue. Knowing the duration of their stay will be brief and lacking a broad range of experiences to draw from, students are likely to grit their teeth and suffer through shoddy rental conditions. We deserve better."

Yes, students do deserve better and they are waking up to the fact that they have strength in numbers.  Each year around April they take part in a 17,000 unit rental  goat rope during which many of the 10,000 student renters play the part of the goat being roped into squalor by the city's landlords for the ensuing academic year. 

Stephanie Kirk, a student journalist at the Western Front, also wrote this week a separate piece entitled "Students Remain Oblivious to Renter Rights".  [Her piece can be found by clicking here].  The article highlights the results of the latest survey of students that demonstrate the shabby conditions under which students live and the often shabby way in which they are treated. 

By virtue of their numbers and the already established interest groups on campus, students are in an excellent position to organize and to bring pressure on City Hall to create a program that will clean up rentals making them safe and healthy places to live. Councilman Jack Weiss is leading the Planning Committee of the City Council forward in creating an ordinance to ensure the health and safety of all renters in Bellingham.  He ought to have our support because he knows very well, too, that that all renters deserve better.


Anonymous said...

Those who wish the city council would be butt-kicked into action that conflicts with gross conduct by many landlords and rental agents

DREAM ON.... This city council and other earlier editions of procrastinators for years upon years upon years have displayed a total indifference to the ills of our rental and zoning problems till one must contemptuously ask when will council do its job and stop playing for the real estate team while ignoring the public good which is supposed to be their prime duty

Anonymous said...

I'm 100% behind the idea of a landlord license, but I take a little offense at your favoritism towards the students. I am an adult renter, most of my neighbors are students, I'm not seeing any talk of making the tennants resposible for their homes as well. Walk up and down High street, count the beer bottles in the yards and rotting sofas in the grass. Get woken up several times a week by SCREAMING at 2:00am and people URINATING in your yard, and you'll see what Im saying! I'd like some sort of ticket issused to the landlords when the police are called to party or noise complaint. WWU will not graduate a student with on campus parking tickets, but off campus they are allowed to disrespect the community as much as they wish. Also, they are responsible for the huge gouging on rental rates and fees. With parents footing the bill for the kids temporary homes, the LLs are free to charge whatever they wish and ignore the real economics and citizens of Bellingham.

Zonemaven said...

My intention is not to favor students, however, they are the most visible group of renters in Bellingham since we have no tenant associations to speak for individuals such as yourself.

I have spoken before in this blog about rowdy behavior, drunkenness, and urinating outside. Check back in my blog by searching for such terms and you will find my previous blog entries on these topics.

With respect to rental rates being affected by students, I have also spoke to that issue here in my blog over the years. Groups of students can easily price a family out of the market when they join with 5 or 6 friends to rent a home at a rate a single family cannot afford. They make this possible by cramming as many as possible in a home a a per person rate that is reasonable for each one. The house across the street from mine rents for $2200 per month. Few working families can afford such a monthly rent (or they would be buying). 5 single renters can each pay $440 per month for a room (or the garage).

Anonymous said...

you cant have 5 unrelated adults in a rental house...only 3.

Zonemaven said...

Yes, I am aware that the city has an ordinance limiting the number of unrelated adults in a single family home rental to three. I was using the example as a description of what actually happens, not what is legal.