Damaged houses with insufficient living interiors will now face scrutiny if the landlords want their properties to be viewed by students looking to live off campus.
The Voluntary Minimum Housing and Safety Standards Inspection Checklist is intended to provide the public, including tenants, with information on rental properties whose owners have voluntarily agreed to be inspected on the basis of safety-oriented guidelines. The inspection is done visually: it is based only on the then-present condition of the property and covers only the items which are reasonably observable.
If there are any observed issues considered a safety hazard, they will be addressed by the City of Keene with the owner. Such items include no permitted smoke detector system, missing smoke detectors, no means of exiting, or blocked exits within the property. Mitchell Greenwald, a broker for Greenwald Realty Associates, said that starting June 1 only properties that have passed the inspection can be put up on the Residential Life website.
“Having this checklist puts pressure on other landlords that don’t have the appropriate living standards within their houses or apartments,” Greenwald said. “It used to be that landlords would put all the utility costs on the student, and it’s proven that those landlords don’t have a good relationship with his or her tenants.” Greenwald said that if students are paying over $600 for rent, then a bulk of the utilities should be paid by the landlord, or be included within the rent. “The living conditions should reflect on the amount students are paying for these houses or apartments,” Greenwald said. “Students should not be expected to pay above $700 if the living conditions are below satisfactory, and it’s clear that students are paying more for damaged properties.” According to the application for a Voluntary Minimum Housing and Safety Standards Inspection, the City of Keene assumes no responsibility for the condition of the properties inspected and expressly disclaims any guarantees, warranties, and any other representation that the properties are code compliant or recommended. The Davis Street Apartments and Arcadia Hall have upgraded the way students should be living off campus. With updated safety standards and approved housing inspections, landlords say students are responding positively to their new living space. “From the first day we opened all of my tenants were all pleased with the room set ups, the utilities we provided, and the overall layout of the building,” Matt Lilly, owner of Davis Street Apartment, said. “We make sure someone is present inside the building every day so our tenants can communicate with us whenever there is a problem.”
Heather Trombly, property manager of Arcadia Hall, agrees that new living standards should be processed and approved so students aren’t gypped out of their collegiate experience. “I think it’s great that new off-campus facilities such as Arcadia Hall are forcing other landlords to update their facilities,” Trombly said.
“Other landlords know once students move into a newer facility and see all they can get for the same price they’re paying there, the stakes are raised,” Trombly continued.
The City of Keene is not approving any rental properties inspected; people must make their own individual and personal choices with regard to the selection of living accommodations. The inspection only indicated that the property met the listed safety-oriented guidelines on the date of the inspection.
Students say it’s a benefit that the city is getting involved with how off campus houses are formatted. “I think it’s a blessing because for too long my friends and I have looked for reasonable apartments or houses that are not run down and have a ridiculous rent attached with it,” KSC senior Stephanie Gemme said.
“Having a safety standard checklist will give students confidence when looking for places to live off campus, and will make landlords have to keep their living standards up to date with the cities inspections.”
Greenwald encourages students to look on the Residential Life website for updated apartments and housing information if interested in off campus housing.
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