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Bradley must assist off-campus residents

Originally published November 12, 2010

Last week, the Scout published the first article in a series about the quality of off-campus housing.

The story has apparently set off some waves with students living in off-campus housing, which is evident by those seeking help from the university.

It’s unfortunate so many students are living in such crummy housing. It’s unfortunate students can one-up each other with stories about basement mold.

But, more than that, it’s unfortunate so many of these students moved into these homes not knowing their rights and the laws when it comes to renting.

It would seem to us that if students think they’re responsible enough to move off campus, they should be responsible enough to look at a house – the whole house – before moving in. There shouldn’t be a surprise when they do their first load of laundry and see a giant wall of black mold. All too often, though, that is the case.

They should also be responsible enough to educate themselves on the city’s laws and renters’ rights when it comes to dealing with landlords.

At some point in every student’s life, there is going to come a time when there isn’t anyone – no parents, no big, bad university – to step up and fight for them. That’s why it’s important they learn now.

That said, students are still students, and relying on the university for some information isn’t all bad.

But there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of information to be had – which is a problem.

First, the university should put together a list of renter’s rights so students know what responsibilities they have and what responsibilities their landlords have.

Second, we’d like to see the university put together a list of ‘preferred’ landlords. That would mean some vetting of the landlords on the school’s part.

It wouldn’t be difficult by any means. A simple survey of graduating seniors about their landlords would be an outstanding starting point.

It wouldn’t take more than a year or two for Bradley to collect enough information to know which landlords are barely above slumlords and which ones are legitimate in their desire to house students.

We’re not really criticizing the university, partly because this has been a long joked about issue, one that’s become far too standard among students.

But the cat’s out of the bag, and the university needs to step up to help us.

Four, five or even 20 students aren’t all that powerful. But the institution has a whole lot of weight to throw around in this community, and if the administration showed that decrepid, disgusting homes are unacceptable, landlords would be forced to change their ways – or they’d lose student business.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that not all landlords are running shoddy operations.

There are, in fact, a number of individuals and married couples who own well-kept homes in the West Bluff. There are larger organizations that own well-kept homes in the West Bluff.

But there are far too many that don’t.

And that’s got to change.

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The Scout is published by members of the student body of Bradley University. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the University.