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September 08, 1988 - Image 58

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The Michigan Daily, 1988-09-08

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Page 2 -- The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 8, 1988

STUDENTS AND ANN ARBOR

.11

Housing

crunch drives up rent

BY CARRIE WEBSTER
Since guaranteed housing at the University only
lasts one year, most University students will eventually
move into an apartment or house off campus. This
means giving up the "friendly" landlord provided by
University housing and becoming a member of the
Ann Arbor community as a rent-paying tenant.
"(Living off-campus) involves a lot more responsi-
bility than living in the dorm because you have to deal
with getting bills out, taking care of
problems when they arise and deal-
ing with landlords," said LSA junior
Lois Kim, "Sometimes it gets to be a
lot along with studies."
HU G Near halfthe student body
makes private living arrangements
each year. The move off-campus
g requires more than filling out room and dorm
preference sheets. It requires house-hunting, dealing
with landlords, and, in most cases, spending more
money.
Comparing the costs of living in residence halls to
off-campus costs "is like comparing apples and or-
anges," said University Housing Program Director Ed
Salowitz.
Salowitz said off-campus living is only more eco-
nomical than on-campus living "if you don't place any
monetary value on your time spent grocery shopping,
preparing food, and cleaning up." He added that
students often don't anticipate added costs such as
utility installation and monthly utility bills.
Students living off-campus also face the problems
of subletting, since they typically sign a 12-month
le'ase, as opposed to the 8-month lease the University
offers. Those who leave town over the summer are
forced to either sublet at a loss or leave their homes
vacant.
UNIVERSITY STATISTICS show a 50 percent
a rent increase from 1980 to 1986. During this period,
the average cost for an efficiency apartment (a one-
person apartment with a bathroom and kitchenette)
skyrocketed from $295 per month to $437 per month.

Claudia Green, a spokesperson for the Ann Arbor
Tenants Union, said she sees "nothing to suggest that
rents will not continue rising at the same rate in the fu-
ture."
The Ann Arbor housing crunch was alleviated
slightly this year with the development of upscale
apartments on the city's periphery. But this develop-
ment - which is not within campus walking distance
- has little effect on students.
The number of students desiring to remain close to
campus keeps rents high and vacancy rates as low as
4.7 percent in 1987 - up 2.4 percent from the year
before.
A SPOKESPERSON for an Ann Arbor man-
agement company, who asked that he and his company
not be named, said "rents are not expected to fall" as a
result of development, "but the pressure that keeps
rents going up is going down."
Green said the housing crunch hurts "lower to mod-
erate income families" who do not have the ability, like
students, to split a large rent among four or five
incomes.
In an April 9th letter to the Ann Arbor News, Ann
Arbor resident Chris Brockman said "the price of
lower-cost rentals in Ann Arbor is driven (up) by U-M
students," who comprise one-third of Ann Arbor's
tenant population.
Brockman called for "the University to take care of
its own, so that the rest of us can take care of our-
selves."
ONE SUGGESTED way for the University to
"take care of its own" is by building more housing fa-
cilities such as co-ops and dorms. The 1968 develop-
ment of Bursley/Baits residence halls, which together
house 2,400 students, was the last major University
housing project.
Said Salowitz, "it may be a tight market, but ex-
pansion is not critical." Leroy Williams, University
Housing Program Director, said "there are no plans for
additional dorms or family housing facilities at pre-
sent."
Attempts to combat high rents have had little impact

in Ann Arbor. A rent stabilization proposal, which
would have restricted rent increases to a base rate of 75
percent of the inflation rate, was defeated in last
April's elections.
Green thinks some type of rent stabilization law is
necessary for Ann Arbor and that "the April proposal
was moderate compared to other already existing
ones."
'We had a rodent in our house and had
to call our landlord every day for a
month before the problem was taken
care of.'
-LSA junior Stacey Springer.
BUT ONE management company spokesperson
said rent control would have harmed students.
"With the fixed prices of rent control, the only way
to maximize profits is by discriminating in favor of the
most appealing tenants (and) the students would have
been discriminated against," he said.
Although students help to keep rents high, he said,
"they are the worst group to lease to (because) they are
the least responsible for taking care of the place and
paying the rent on time."
As novice tenants in Ann Arbor, students are vul-
nerable to potential landlord abuses and should be
aware of their rights as tenants, said Green.
The AATU warns students to watch for landlords
abusing their privacy rights and entering homes with-
out proper notice, and to beware of houses or apart-
ments not up to Michigan housing code requirements.
BUT MOST students cite only minor problems
with their landlords - such as delayed responses to
complaints or negligence of maintenance re-
sponsibilities.

LSA junior Stacey Springer said "persistence is the
key" to dealing with landlords. "We had a rodent in
our house and had to call our landlord every day for a
month before the problem was taken care of," she said.
But some tenants have reported more serious prob-
lems with landlords.
LSA junior Shara Millman said she and her house-
mates caught a burglar fleeing their home with a purse
containing their house keys. When they asked their
landlord to change the locks, she said, he "refused to
give us the name of the locksmith he had used and did
not reimburse us when we changed the locks because
he said we had let (the burglar) in."
The AATU plans to establish teams of inspectors to
ensure off-campus housing is habitable and up to code.
AATU members at the group's Michigan Union offices
also will review leases to make sure they do not in-
clude illegal clauses.
SOME LANDLORDS have included illegal
clauses that make tenants responsible for all court fees
in case of a landlord-tenant dispute, and others that
charge tenants additional cleaning fees.
The University also offers an off-campus Housing
Registration Program designed to bridge the
communication gap between tenants and landlords.
About 500 management companies and landlords are
registered with the- University and use University
leases.
But Green warns that "a registered landlord may use
a University lease but have a couple pages tacked on
which may not be legal."
University Housing spokesperson Jo Rumsey cau-
tioned students planning a move off campus to choose
their roommates carefully, because "one of the most
common problems students encounter is roommate
disputes."
Students sometimes leave when they have problems
with their roommates and ignore their rent
responsibilities, causing problems for both the remain-
ing tenants and the landlord.

mom"

VIfl.IE jgTjt{p1jE D Y,. I A

DON'T BE UNINFORMED!

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ACADEMIC SUCCESS
TUTORING
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General study habits.
WORKSHOPS
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RESERVE OFFICERS' TRAINING CORPS

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Reading & Learning Skills Center
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OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS ON THESE
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Why? Because Art y ROTC heps oudeveop
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succeed -in college and in life.
ARMY ROTC
Find Out More. Call Captain O'Rourke
Visit 131 North Hall or Call 764-2400

READ THE DAILY!
DAILY!!!

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4

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