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Off-campus housing: The prospects

Originally published November 19, 2010

Editor’s note: This is the final in a three part series looking at off-campus housing.

The prospects for off-campus housing may seem bleak, but some students and area rental companies say it’s not all bad.

“I’m satisfied with where I live,” said senior management and administration major Kara Mauser. “We have a good landlord. I know not everyone has that, and we are fortunate in that respect.”

Mauser said the problems she faced at her 1600 block of Barker Avenue residence were limited.

“When they first moved in, there were problems with mold. We still have to go down there and spray the walls with bleach water sometimes,” she said. “There are tiny flies in the house, but I called the landlord about that. If we have problems, he does take care of it.”

Senior mechanical engineering major Eric Kraus said he has also been content with his off-campus housing experience at an 800 block of Moss Avenue apartment.

“We started renting from Cambridge, but now those apartments are under new management,” he said. “They’ve been making the apartments better.”

Kraus said he thought Cambridge let the apartments fall into disrepair, but new managing company, SK2, has continued to improve them.

“[The company] painted stairwells, put in a security fence and wants to put in new carpets and renovate the kitchens,” he said. “They need it, but the new management is making it look a lot better.”

The main issues, Kraus said, are spiders and drafts.

“There are a lot of drafts here,” he said. “Every place seems like the windows are bad and let in drafts, so I wish they would renovate that.”

Bill Merritt of S&S Property Management, a company that recently faced an incident involving students moving because of code violations, said there are typically few problems and the students did not have to move.

“The only item remaining was a window violation and we have gone into housing court,” he said. “It did not meet code for being safe for toddlers. We had to put a device on there so a toddler could not open it. That was the only issue that remained to meet the city code.”

Merritt said another issue of that house was asbestos on the pipes in the basement but he was unaware of it because no one was living downstairs.

“These big two stories that students live in were adapted under old codes, and typically you don’t have to update a house if you lived there yourself,” he said. “When you have a tenant in there, we get a list to bring up to code. And rightfully so, which is what we did.”

S&S manages several hundred units, but only half a dozen being leased by Bradley students, Merritt said.

“The problems with student housing are that new tenants start moving in before we get possession of the house,” he said. “They have friends move in right after they move out. Typically when a unit comes in we clean and repair everything. Some of those are problems or damage that is done while tenants are there.”

Merritt said there is a greater expectation of damage when renting out to students.

“You have multiple unrelated adults, and it’s basic human nature,” he said. “You get a good friend, move into an apartment together, and that’s when you really get to know them. We’re typically dealing with 18 to 22 year olds who never lived on their own and don’t really know what they’re responsible for.”

Merle Huff of Campus Club Rentals said his company rents to nearly 300 Bradley students and have to be very stringent with city codes.

“There are more than just codes required when people move out,” he said. “For example, city inspectors called because we had six girls in a house and an improper smoke alarm, but it’s proper now.”

Huff said if anyone has issues, they fill out a repair notice.

“If it’s an emergency, it will get done immediately,” he said.

Huff said if students have problems such as mice, it’s typically a housekeeping issue, but the problems he has dealt with have been few and far between.

“Then the problems are generally taken care of,” he said. “In the last five years, I can count on one hand all the problems we’ve had.”