National Apartment Association Releases U.S. Student Housing Report

Last week, J Turner Research and the National Apartment Association released a student housing report. The survey results are based on responses from 11,195 college students and 3,605 parents from 159 different colleges and universities.

(source: www.naahq.org)

The executive summary of the report can be found here – SURVEY SAYS! Apartment Features, Amenities And Programs That Sell To Students And Parents.

The article I read about the report isn’t that great, but the results are interesting.

According to the article, the report found that:

  • When it came to selecting an apartment, 47 percent of students cited rental rates and price as their top determinant.
  • Parents pushed security to the top of their list (34 percent), followed by  location/proximity to campus (29 percent), with rental rates and pricing (20 percent) ranking third
  • Private bedrooms and bathrooms remain the most important apartment amenity among students and parents (40% and 62% respectively), followed by in-unit laundry (19% and 16%) and large bedrooms (11% and 8%).
  • The number one way students communicate with their peers is with mobile phones, and primarily via text, where most students estimated sending more than 100 texts per day.
  • When visiting an apartment community website, both parents and students are most interested in getting information about rental rates (parents 48 percent, students 57 percent) followed by photos of property, unit and common areas (parents 20 percent, students 21 percent).
  • Besides pricing and locations, most students (19 percent) find professional leasing and management staffs to be most important to them.
  • The top cable channels for students include ESPN, The Food Network, MTV, and FX.

– Leann

Advertisements

News Round-Up March 1, 2012

I find many interesting stories about off-campus housing, thanks to Google Alerts. Not all of these articles need an entire post dedicated to them, so I thought it might be helpful to do a round-up of some of the stories.

  • Edinburgh University Students’ Association launches campaign to protect tenants – EUSA launches the Fair Housing Campaign, which includes a charter of eight commitments that students felt were important when renting. Letting agents, or landlords, can sign the charter, and then the EUSA will list the services who are committed to those standards. Some of the commitments include “deposits are returned within one month of the final information being available and that landlords show a commitment to improving the energy efficiency of the property.”
  • Students turn to Google, not traditional ads to find apartments – Catalyst, an Austin-based marketing firm that specializes in the student housing industry, surveyed more than 500 college students about their use of digital/social media and the types of marketing tactics that typically impact their housing decisions. Of those surveyed, 53 percent of students ranked Google/Internet searches as most important in helping them find a place to live.
  • ‘Student housing at varsities is shocking’ – Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande presented the report, “A Review of the Provision of Student Housing at South African Universities,” which found that there is a shortage of 195,000 beds at university residences across the country.

Also, an update on House Bill 4425 – as of 1:41 p.m. today (March 1, 2012), it’s been introduced to the Senate.

– Leann

Be wary when looking for housing on Craigslist

Two women in South Carolina were recently arrested for scamming students out of money by lying to them about leasing apartments, according to an article from wltx.com.

(Photo credit: Lexington Co. Detention Center. Cynthia Louise Allen (left), Coreshia Malasia Henry)

According to the article:

West Columbia Police Chief Dennis Tyndall says the victims would place ads on Craigslist looking for people sublease their student housing leases.  Allen and Henry, Tyndall says, would contact the victims and take money from them in exchange for assuming the lease. However, officers say once they got the money, they stopped contacting the victims, and never took over the lease.

I’ve not heard of any Craigslist housing scams in Morgantown, but when I spoke to Carrie Showalter from WVU student Legal Services, she said there was an incident with a landlord renting out apartments he didn’t own.

The WLTX article has some tips from West Columbia Police Chief Dennis Tyndall for subleasing an apartment:

  1. Never pay, wire transfer or give money to any person to take over your lease.
  2. Always follow the rental property sublease terms.
  3. Have the person who is taking over your lease fill out the necessary contracts with the rental property staff.
  4. Don’t mail, fax or e-mail a blank lease agreement to a potential sub-lessee.  Have them work details out through the property rental office.

-Leann

Residents reject new student housing projects all over the country

I try to follow news of off-campus housing closely, and one story I keep seeing over and over is student housing plans are being rejected all over the country. Many times residents are rejecting the plans because they don’t want students in their neighborhoods, but there are other reasons, as well. Here are a few of the stories I’ve gathered recently with some excerpts explaining why the housing plans were rejected.

Landlords say there isn’t a need for more student housing in the city, citing their own increased vacancy rates as proof. They question why the city would subsidize a new complex with out-of-town owners while ignoring local landlords.

“We’re not a college town.  We’re a resident town that happens to have a college.  Student housing should be the university’s problem, not ours.”

  • We just don’t want you here’ Ann Arbor residents tell student housing developer – AnnArbor.com:
“Bottom line is we moved into this neighborhood to get away from campus,” one resident said. “With you building right there, we all just might as well move back downtown.”

  • Neighborhood wins against off-campus wildness – msnbc.com:
Westwood’s former frat-row feel has nearly faded and property values have been saved, locals say, thanks to homeowners who won new zoning and parking restrictions limiting the number of OSU students in the neighborhood.

Neighborhood residents raised concerns about the traffic, competition for on-street parking spaces, and noise they say would be generated by the apartments.

  • Are student-only rentals on their way out in Evanston?Wilmette Life:

“This town cannot tolerate two private rental markets, one for students and one for families,” said Gail Schechter, executive director of the Interfaith Housing Center. “It is in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act.”

The commissioners generally agreed that students living off-campus have had a demonstrated, negative impact on the quality of life for neighbors. They also agreed that they would like to see enhanced efforts by the university to address those issues and evidence that their solutions are working.

  • No relief for neighbors of Quinnipiac students in Hamden Post Chronicle:

From now on, whenever there is an application for student housing or an application is being renewed, the Planning and Zoning Department will prepare a guide for all neighbors within 200 feet of the property rented to students, Town Planner Leslie Creane said. The homeowners will receive information on when to call a university hotline, town police or the property owner, and other relevant telephone numbers.

I think the last story listed, “No relief for neighbors of Quinnipiac students in Hamden,” has an interesting concept – alerting residents within 200 feet of the property of the plans and providing them with important contact numbers. Not everyone keeps up with the news, so it’s possible neighbors may not know about a new development until it begins, so that’s a good way to keep residents informed.

– Leann

Sunnyside Up’s accomplishments and goals

When Sunnyside Up was formed in 2002, the board created a comprehensive plan that listed goals and objectives. For the first few years, the group didn’t follow close to that plan, said Executive Director Jim Hunt.

One of the items that was on the plan for years was adding a PRT stop in Sunnyside, where Beech View Park is currently being constructed on Beechurst Avenue.

(For those who don’t know what the PRT is, it stands for Personal Rapid Transit. Electric passenger cars run on the track, which has five stops between the Evansdale and Downtown campuses. I like to call it “The Subway of the Heavens,” because  it soars through the sky and the “PRT Gods” always yell at students over the loudspeaker when they don’t scan their cards or stand too close to the yellow line. Actually, I think Pete the PRT can explain it better than I can.)

Sunnyside Up did look into getting a PRT stop, but discovered it would cost $13 million, which wasn’t within the budget. While it wasn’t a feasible project, it stayed on the list year after year. Hunt decided the work plan needed to be updated, and to bring back the company who helped write the original plan in 2002 to assist.

Each summer the board of directors holds a retreat where members update the work plan, whether that means adding new items or removing projects that aren’t feasible.

When asked what Sunnyside Up’s biggest accomplishments are, Hunt said the creation of a Tax Increment Financing district and the sidewalk/lighting project that occurred last summer, which cost approximately $1.5 million.

The demolition of 70 dilapidated houses was another big accomplishment. The houses were scattered across the neighborhood, and almost every one of the demolitions has resulted in a new project, Hunt said.

As for goals, Hunt shared with me the 2012 Work Plan:

The plan includes the following projects:

  • Seneca Park Project – “Seneca Park is proposed to be a recreational facility within the Sunnyside neighborhood. It will provide a walking area, benches, green space and possible other amenities.”
  • Seneca Connector Project – “The Seneca Connector is proposed to be a pedestrian and bicycle focused pathway through the Sunnyside neighborhood utilizing existing streets, alleyways and right-a-ways from the Evansdale Campus to the Downtown Campus of West Virginia University.”
  • Second phase of Sunnyside Tax Increment Financing Project – “The size and scope of the 2nd phase of the TIF Project will need to be determined and design and engineering will need to be completed prior to construction in 2013.”
  • Alleyway Improvement Project – “Sunnyside Up has identified alleyways in the Sunnyside neighborhood to be an area of potential improvement in parking, solid waste removal and overall appearance of the neighborhood. Sunnyside Up will be analyzing the alleyways to determine the amount of potential development that can take place to improve parking and solid waste removal.”
  • McLane Avenue Improvement Project – “Sunnyside Up has identified McLane Avenue as an area that can be improved at moderate expense. The project will involve working with property owners and the City of Morgantown to repair sidewalks and other infrastructure to develop a more walkable street.”

Other tasks in 2012 include:

  • Manage Sunnyside Up grant programs
  • Clean sidewalks, Caperton Rail Trail and other areas by Manpower Temporary Services workers
  • Supervise brush and tree removal on unopened right-a-ways and Caperton Trail by contracted tree service
  • Organize volunteer cleanup and community service events
  • Meet with prospective developers in conjunction with Morgantown City Planning Department
  • Brownfield Redevelopment of Beaumont Glass Factory site
  • Dumpster painting through volunteer and contracted services
  • Coordinate activities and support Sunnyside Neighborhood Association
  • Work with WVU Student Government Association
  • Work with City of Morgantown Rental Housing Advisory Committee
  • Maintain Sunnyside Up website and social media presence
  • Work with International Town-Gown Association
  • Develop student-led projects and supervise interns
  • Manage and update Sunnyside Up Business Database Program
  • Interact with current development projects in Sunnyside neighborhood
  • Organize annual retreat and monthly board meetings

This is described as a “partial list” of tasks.

Hunt describes the work plan as “the path to get the neighborhood back together.”

-Leann

Metro Towers sued by attorney for defamation and threats

While searching for Metro Towers, I came across an interesting article from the West Virginia Record, “Attorney sues Metro Towers, owners for defamation, threats.” This article ran September 9, 2011, and I’m going to try to sum it up, but it’s a lot of information.

In August 2010, Metro Towers bought Grand Central Business Center at a foreclosure sale. David and Richard Biafora are the owners of Metro Towers, LLC.

According to the article, Morgantown attorney Edward R. Kohout rented his law office space in the North Building of Grand Central Business Center. According to the suit, in October 2010, David Biafora called Kohout and “rudely and angrily told him to vacate the building immediately to make way for construction.” Kohout claimed that David Biafora also told him that he hated lawyers and did ot want any trouble with him because he was “not gonna take crap” from him.

Kohout claimed that he agreed to move, but reminded David Biafora that his lease was through June 2011.

Kouhout also entered a written lease for a house located on Evans Street in July 2009. The front of the house faces the parking lot of what was at the time Grand Central Business Center. Kohout claimed that when he entered the lease, he was told he could park his car in the Grand Central parking lot. He parked his car in that lot until June 2011, when David Biafora told him that he could no longer park there, according to the suit.

(Map from Google Maps. Evans Street is marked at the top, the polygon marks the parking lot, and the blue flag at the bottom marks Grand Central Business Center/Metro Towers.)

David Biafora told Kohout again in July 2011 that he could not park there because they were getting ready to start work in the area. According to the suit, Kohout parked his car in the parking lot again on August 27 through August 30 because there was no work being done.

On August 30, David Biafora went to Kohout’s home to tell him that he was having his car towed to teach him a lesson. Kohout offered to move his car, and claims that David Biafora called him a “scumbag lawyer” and other names, and then blocked his car in so that he could not move it, according to the suit.

Kohout called 911, and had to pay a tow truck driver $57.50 to release his car. The following day, Richard Biafora delivered a letter to Kohout that stated he was not to treapass again and threatened to take legal action against him, Kohout claimed.

Kohout claims the defendants defamed him, threatened him and caused him distress, and owe him a monthly lease payment of $955 per month for seven months since he was forced to move out of his office before his lease was up, according to the suit.

This lawsuit is case number 11-C-558 in the Monongalia Circuit Court.

I’ve looked to see if there’s been any follow-up stories to this case, but I haven’t found anything.

I also tried to search Monongalia County Circuit Clerk’s Case Information Inquiry, but after signing up, I received an e-mail that stated, “Currently this program is only offered to local attorneys.”

I’m going to keep looking for the case to see if I can find any updated information.

– Leann

The Players: Landlords/Rental Properties

When looking into covering a topic, a reporter has to look at the “players,” or the people who are involved. There are a few groups that I consider to be the important players in this topic:

Today I’m going to look into landlords and rental properties in Sunnyside.

The way I’ve found these apartments is by searching at apartmentratings.com and Google Maps. It’s possible that I left some out, and if you notice that I have, please leave a comment to let me know.

According to Sunnyside Up, “Sunnyside is located immediately to the west of West Virginia University’s Downtown Campus and adjacent to the Square at Falling Run development, encompasses more than 130 acres of land between Campus Drive, Jones Avenue, Eighth Street and the banks of the Monongahela River.” Here are a couple rough outlines I created with Google Maps of the area:

(To view full map and use interactive features, go here)

(To view full-size interactive map, go here. This is the Google Earth view.)

I will list each apartment, the address and a link to its rating from apartmentratings.com, if available. In a previous post, I noted that apartmentratings.com seems to be the most popular place for Morgantown residents to review and rate their rental units. It’s important to actually read the reviews and not just make a decision based on the rating. Some are highly recommended despite their low scores.

  • Bent Tree Court/Pine Ridge / Corner of 8th Street & Beechurst Ave. / 3.7 out of 5
  • Glenlock North / 2108 University Ave. / 1.5 out of 5
  • Kelly Rental Management LLC / 100 7th St.
  • Mel Friend Rental Apartments / 48 Campus Dr.
  • Metro Towers / 2567 University Ave.
  • Mountaineer Court / 1993 Water St. / 2.7 out of 5
  • MTW Apartments LLC / 521 Beverly Ave.
  • Ondo Rentals / First St. / 3.0 out of 5
  • PanCo Properties / 230 Beechurst Ave. / 2.3 out of 5
  • Riverview Estates / 3028 Grand Central Station Dr.
  • Sunnyside Commons / 235 Jones Ave.
  • Terrace Heights Apartments / 2760 University Ave. / 3.7 out of 5
  • University Prime Properties / 507 Beechurst Ave. / 3.1 out of 5
  • Whetco Enterprises / 263 Grant Avenue.
  • Wincor Properties / 251 Beechurst Ave.

I created the map below with all of the above mentioned apartments marked. Click on a blue mark to see the address and name of the apartment. You can view the full-size version of the map here.

-Leann