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Page C-2 - The Michigan Daily, Thursday, September 8, 1 ';13
Housing market opens up
By JAYNE HENDEL
A little freedom can be addictive. So
after a year or two of being nurtured in
the dormitory, most students are ready
to explore life beyond their twelve-by-
Most satisfy that craving for the real
world by renting their own house or
apartment near campus.
"COLLEGE IS four years to grow
up," says Steve Schwartz, a junior in
LSA. "In the dorm everyone takes care
of you. When you move out, you have to
deal with a landlady and cook for your-
Only a few years ago students paid
a high price for that freedom.
Throughout the late seventies the city's
vacancy rate hovered between 1 and 5
percent; landlords were able to keep
rents high and upkeep on houses low,
without the risk of losing tenants.
Students who didn't like uninvited
crawling visitors or leaky faucets had
no place else to go.
But recently, an unheard of 13.8 per-
cent vacancy rate has spurred com-
petition between area landlords.
STUDENTS now get lower rents, bet-
ter living conditions, and more time to
look before signing a lease.
Several factors are pushing the
vacancy rates up, housing officials say..
Declining enrollments mean fewer
students are on campus, while tighter
budgets are causing students to double-
up in single rooms or even live at home.
The big kick in the seventies was
privacy, local landlords say. Students
wanted their own space, and they were
willing to pay for it. Now, money seems
to be the primary concern, and students
are willing to share their living space -
even if it means packing seven or eight
High vacancy rate gives
students better deals
people into a five bedroom house, lan-
The, result is that some landlords
have been forced to make concessions
and offer incentives that were rare
before 1980. They are more willing to
make repairs, reduce rents, re-carpet
and re-furnish, and in some cases, even
offer color television sets.
Houses and apartments offer a chan-
ce to get away from the routine (and
taste) of dorm meals, blasting stereos,
and the ever present aroma of beer.
Living on your own teaches the joys of
Krogering (local slang for shopping),
how to budget food and money, cooking,
cleaning, and paying bills.
IT ALSO gives students a taste of how
expensive the real world is. Furnished
apartments near campus cost each
tenant a minimum of $290 a month for a
one-room efficiency. One and two
bedroom apartments cost around $500
for the unit each month. Rent for larger
apartments and houses is about $200
per person, according to the housing of-
Utility and telephone bills can push
expenses much higher. Electricity and
heating charges can add from $80 to
$180 to the total cost, while phones cost
up to $45 dollars to install, and $10 for
On top of those monthly fees, most
landlords require a security deposit to
ensure that tenants pay rent and don't
destroy the property. Landlords usually
ask for one and one-half months rent
before signing a lease.
MOST HOUSES and apartments are
rented on a twelve month basis,
although landords are increasingly
willing to negotiate eight month leases.
Tenants who rent for eight months,
however, usually end up paying for
about ten because monthly payments
Students who have not rented" before
should talk to a housing office advisor
to discuss legal obligations before
signing a lease, says Brenda Herman,
a University housing advisor.
The most common problem students
have living off-campus is dividing
responsibility, says Herman. Deciding
who goes shopping, who cleans, and
who cooks can create major problems.
Different tastes in music, or a room-
mate's live-in boy or girlfriend can also
cause trouble, she says.
TENANT-landlord disputes are more
complicated. Although most are solved
informally, disagreements over rent
payments or property upkeep can end
up in court.
Tenants often charge that their lan-
dlords are not making necessary
repairs, or providing enough heat, says
Herman, who mediates some of the
disputes as part of her job. "Tenants
think landlords aren't living up to their
part of the bargain," she says.
David Copi, a local landlord says that
"On the whole, students take good car.
of the places they rent." Some tenants,
however, cause trouble for landlords
when they do not pay rent on time or
damage the furniture, he says.
BECAUSE most leases run 12 mon-
ths, students who leave during the
summer are forced to pay for an empty
room or find someone who will rent it,
However, this sub-leasing rarely
pays the entire rent. Area realtor
agree that sub-leased apartments
for about half of the regular monthly
rent; main tenants get stuck paying the
The system is ideal for students
looking for a cheap place to live during
spring and summer terms, but not so
appealing for those who are already
Students who need housing advice
can go to the University's housing office
in the Student Activities Building, or t
the Ann Arbor Tenants Union in th
THE HOUSING office has listings of
available houses on and off-campus,
roommate matching services, copies of
regular and sublet leases, and a staff to
help students make financial and per-
sonel decisions. "We're like a one-stop
grocery store," says housing advisor,
The Ann Arbor Tenants Union fun-
ctions as an information center and
group which lobbies for tenants' rights.
It provides information on security
precautions, weather proofing, and city
housing codes. Tenants can also get in-
formal advice on ways to prod landlor-
ds into making needed repairs.
Daily Photo by ELIZABETH SCOTT
A relatively high vacancy rate of 13.8 percent has eased up an extremely
tight housing market for students. The fear of empty rooms has pushed lan-
dlords into offering lower rent, faster repairs, and even new furniture to coy
City tenants union splits
to battle financial woes
By JAYNE HENDEL
In an attempt to battle financial
problems, the Ann Arbor Tenants Union
is splitting into two organizations this
One organization, to be called the
Tenant-Landlord Resource Center, will
be non-political in nature and focus on
tenant and housing education. With the
resource center's focus on education,
tenant union officials hope the federal
government will allow it to accept tax
THE SECOND organization will keep
the name of the tenants union, and will
be a lobbying group for tenants'
housing concerns. This branch will con-
tinue to be funded with 10 cents the
tenants union receives out of every
The Ann Arbor Tenants Union
currently undertakes both of those
tasks with only the student fee funds to
support it. By splitting into two bran-
ches it hopes to fund only the lobbying
group with student money, and have the
resource center supported by private
The union was formed in 1968 by a
group of students who were organizing
a rent strike against their landlords to
gain better maintenance service.
THE ORIGINAL group grew to about
1200 tenants who placed more than
$150,000 in an escrow account to keep
the union going.
In its early days the union was more
vocal than it is now said Maureen Delp,
a union- program director. Curren-
tly it functions more as a resource cen-
ter for tenants and landlords.
It used to encourage and participate
in large rallies and group rent strikes to
gain city wide housing changes. Now it
tends to attack housing problems on
person to person basis, she said.
"MAYBE THERE is a lot more con-
servative people today who don't want
to be involved in public political ac-
tion," she said.
The union is hoping that the up-
coming split will produce enough ad-
ditional funds to make it a viable lob-
bying group once again, Delp said.
The union's recent swing to more of a
resource center has included coun-
seling sessions, and workshops for
tenants. The union also distributes
numerous pamphlets about sub-
leasing, renting houses and apartmen-
ts, and'dealing with landlords.
THE UNION has not been able to
carry out its full function, Delp says,
because it is so severely under-
budgeted. The 10 cents the union gets
from student fees cannot even pur-
chase all the office supplies it needs,
One of the top priorities the union has
for any budget increase is hiring a full-
time office and counseling coordinator
for the resource center, Delp said.
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...says union has become less political
Tenant union counselors are usually
student volunteers who can receive
credit for their work. But Delp said that
they need an experienced counklor to
guide them and answer their more
But before it can hire a coordinator,
the union may have to re-establish its
general counseling program. It will be
greatly reduced, and possibly even
eliminated this fall while. the resource
center waits for federal government
permission to accept the contributions.
It it does operate, there will probably be
a $2 fee, she said.
The union may not hear from the
federal government until this winter or
longer, Delp said.
By HALLE CZECHOWSKI
You saved all summer to buy that
great stereo for your dorm room, but
don't go showing it off just yet. To
prevent crime, students need be less
trusting and more aware of their
vulnerability, says Walt Stevens, the
University safety director.
Students often take a naive outlook on
campus life and let themselves to slip
into a false sense of security, Stevens
"THERE IS A certain setting in a
campus like ours, (students) have an
attitude that it is not going to happen to
me," he says. "Students ultimately
don't protect their property as well as
someone who lives in a private residen-
As a result, they end up the victims of
numerous petty thefts, larceny, and
sometimes more violent crimes which
could be prevented.
Calculators, textbooks, backpacks,
bicycles, stereos, money, wallets, pur-
ses, and football tickets are all hot
items among campus theives. But
safety officials say that theives will
take anything that is small, easily re-sold,
ALTHOUGH. THEFT can occur any
place valuables are loose and unatten-
ded, the two most common places are
the dormitories and libraries.
But Stevens stresses that these are
two of the easiest places to prevent
crime. In the dorms students should
always lock the door when they leave
the room, even if it is only for a minute.
While studying in the University
libraries, never leave books,
calculators, or other valuables sitting
on the desks unattended.
Bicycle thefts, which especially
plague the city in the summer, are also
easy to prevent. Buy a good lock, and
AT TEN TIN COn no iss e u r s
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always use it, safety officials say, and
register your bicycle with the city of
Ann Arbor so it can be recovered if it is
RAPE AND sexual crimes happen
less frequently, but still are a danger
for students, especially women.
Last year the Ann Arbor Police in-
vestigated 31 sexual assaults in the city
and two on campus.
But Stevens says the number of rapt
on campus declined last year. The
campus does not have a high incidence
of rape, he says.
"WE DO NOT have a significant
known problem with criminal sexual
conduct," he says.
He says, however, that even one rape
a year is considered a problem. "One
case is too many."
Dectective Jerry Wright, the head of
Ann Arbor's crime prevention bureau4
says the decline in rape could merely'
reflect a high number of unreported
Many assaults are commited by
acquaintances of the victim, and most
of those go unreported, says Wright.
"THE MAJORITY of risks
associated with rape aren't occurring
by strangers, it is casual acquaintance
assault," he says.
Many women are pressured by friend
ds not to report the incident, or arel
reluctant to admit that they associated
with someone who assaulted them, says
Even more surprising is that several
women he has spoken to did not even
consider their experience sexual
assault untilthe defined the term, says
WRIGHT LISTS several measures
women can take to prevent rape. Most
students do not use all the security
precautions available, he says.
Women living in dorms and private
homes should always keep the doors
locked, "A majority of victims don't
utilize the locks," he says.
Women that live alone should not ad-
vertise the fact. They should list only
their last name in the telephone book
and not give their address. These
women should even create a fictitiousr
housemate to cover their vulnerability;
ALSO TO PREVENT assault, the
University operates a late night ride
bus for students who have to return
home from the libraries late at night.
Women living in dorms can avoid
walking alone after dark by using the
escort service most dorms offer. Or if
the dorm does not have an escort seri
v4e, call a friend to walk home with.
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