Hardball with student renters

Declines in real estate and excess supply give prospective student-renters ammunition toward more lucrative leases

As March rolls into April, University students begin to peruse local classifieds and city streets for 2009-2010 housing opportunities. This year, be more assertive in rent negotiations. The latest S&P/Case-Schiller Home Price Index showed a 4.7 percent drop in Minneapolis real estate prices in January. Landlords paying mortgages contracted upon bubbled real estate prices are feeling the pinch, but those landlords who own rental property outright will now receive a rent check which represents a greater portion of home value than two years ago. That is unreasonable, especially with a surplus of housing in the University area. Referring to rent levels, Bill Dane of Student Legal Services said itâÄôs âÄúa mystery why prices continue to go upâĦwe went from a situation in which there was a shortage of property, but the shortage was taken up by towers. Over the last five years, a building boom has put a lot of slack in the market.âÄù It seems as if landlords are charging rents for the supply/demand of a couple years ago. This doesnâÄôt mean the free market is broken. Most leases are signed for an entire year in the fall; this reality deliberates price correction, and students ought hasten through a sort of inverse Keynesianism. Rather than a government increasing demand from the top down, willingness to pay given rates should be reduced from the bottom-up, through tougher student-renter negotiations where prospective renters make clear the reality of market conditions suggest lower prices. Reasonable landlords, frightened of empty units would happily sign a lease for $30 less per renter per month, if they only knew it was reasonable.