Students face housing problems over summer

by Sean Madigan

Chris Karow, a College of Liberal Arts sophomore, is heading back to Milwaukee for the summer not knowing where he’ll live next fall.
With less than two weeks left in the quarter, Karow said he must find something fast or face a midsummer trip to Minneapolis.
Karow is like many University students facing several challenges as they begin searching for places to live in the fall.
Although near-campus housing sites aren’t plentiful, resources are available in a myriad of places. The University offers many services facilitating students’ searches.
“Everybody walks into the office looking for a four-bedroom house in Dinkytown, with hardwood floors, and there just aren’t that many available,” said Beth Apple of University Housing and Residential Life. “It’s just a big fight for whatever is available,” she said.
Housing officials offer several services for assisting students in finding off-campus housing. Students can post roommate listings, review apartment and house descriptions and obtain information on landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities.
But they can’t solve all the potential problems.
The office doesn’t receive most housing listings until mid-June and July. This becomes problematic when students leave for the summer.
Karow said newspaper listings have been less than desirable so far.
He walked into housing services earlier this week seeking assistance. “We’re looking for a four-bedroom apartment in Dinkytown or at least fairly close,” he said. “But they’re just hard to find.”
Karow will benefit from the listings provided by housing services. They receive property information from management companies, realtors and private individuals. Those listings are then logged into binders for easy reference.
All students, faculty and staff members must first register with housing services. They are then free to browse through the numerous listings and make phone calls from the office as often as they wish. “People come back (to the center) multiple times,” Apple said.
Housing officials hope the department will be online by October. Apple believes computer access will alleviate office congestion and make the office more accessible to students overseas. The office currently operates only as a walk-in facility.
Eric Johnson, a liberal arts sophomore, said he started his search early. Johnson spent the last two years in Bailey Hall, but said he thinks it is time for a change. Johnson plans to live in St. Paul. But many of those listings are not posted until late June.
Like Johnson, many students seeking off-campus housing for the first time find the department useful. Officials can help students understand what landlords look for in tenants, as well.
Ralph Rickgarn, an executive assistant for Housing and Residential Life, said landlords often contact residence halls for information on lessee applicants, but the office cannot release anything without student consent.
Rickgarn said landlords typically want verification of a student’s housing records. These include disciplinary records and lengths of stay.
Colleen Clark, an assistant property manager for Morgan Management, said landlords look for three things: renter’s income, a residential history and an established credit history. But for many first-time renters, this information is not available, so landlords must rely on a co-signer and residence hall references, she said.