October 25, 2002

Housing Rush Kicks Off With Vigor, Unaffected by Conflicts

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The two weeks after fall break are traditionally the big rush for Collegetown housing and this year proved to be no different. In spite of recent concerns over off-campus housing resulting from a condemned house last month, steady student interest has caused some in the property business to wonder whether students care more about their safety or their location.

Sharon Marx, property manager of Ithaca Renting — owners of Collegetown Plaza, Center, and Court — said that around 50 people camped out earlier this week to make sure they could get one of the higher occupancy units.

Ithaca Renting actually opens up later than most landlords to rent out space for the following academic year, and students should be looking by now, according to Marx.

If students wait, she said, “they’ll not get prime choices in apartments.”

Marx has noticed that this year fewer students seemed to be prepared.

“We’re finding the groups this year are just not organized … they’re not getting groups together and making a decision.”

However, the reason students seem to be holding off may be because of recommendations from Cornell’s Housing Office.

Pam Zinder ’82, manager of Housing Alternatives, said that their office will not even post listings for the following year until November.

“I can’t guarantee that things will still be available, but when students are finding housing now for next year, they have to ask themselves important questions,” Zinder said.

She said students need to think about things like whether they will remain friends with their future roommates or if they end up wanting to go abroad.

“Once [students] sign the lease, it’s a binding agreement, and [they] can’t break it. If their situation changes, they’re going to have to make some difficult decisions.”

Christopher Anagnost ’65 of Christopher George Real Estate said, “I think people are more interested in signing a lease, and hoping it complies.”

Students seem to be unaware of both the importance of a certificate of compliance as well as the resources available to them, according to Zinder.

“They feel like they’re very alone, but that’s not correct … [the Housing Office] is here to help them,” she said.

The Housing Office helps with their online listings and suggestions, in addition to in-person assistance. Representatives will review leases with students to make sure they understand everything.

For this weekend’s First-Year Family Weekend, the Housing Office will have a session to inform parents about their student’s housing options for next year.

In another attempt to inform students, the Student Assembly (S.A.) passed a resolution last night to send out a “Collegetown Bill of Rights” to all students via e-mail.

Jackie Koppell ’05, chair of Residential and Community Life Committee for S.A., said that the purpose of the bill is to educate students of their rights as tenants and the legal responsibilities of landlords.

Phyllis Radke, Building Commission for the City of Ithaca, thinks it will be helpful for students.

“The knowledge you have … will be a great tool,” she said.

She also thought that if students used the Collegetown Bill of Rights, her office would probably have fewer parents calling them in the fall, concerned about their children’s living conditions.

Anagnost said that the bill could “probably have a small impact, but not on the scale [Student Assembly ] would like to see.”

Even with better resources available, students still must take the action and use them.

The City of Ithaca is trying to help and make sure all housing properties are up to code.

Radke said that they have already hired another building inspector, and plans are under way to reformat the procedure the City has for doing inspections. This new strategy would include closer attention towards landlords that have failed to stay current with the Building Code in the past.

Matoula Halkiopoulos, owns several properties in Collegetown and she said that they are all kept up to code.

“I have a good name, so I don’t have a problem,” said Halkiopoulos.

Archived article by Rachel Brenner