Eleven university-owned homes are available for rent next year
THE SANTA CLARA
January 7, 2016
After university officials made the controversial announcement that it would directly control and rent out 20 off-campus homes beginning next school year, the administration has released rent prices for these homes that it will charge next year.
According to Jane Barrantes, assistant vice president of Auxiliary Services, rent for these homes, called neighborhood units, is increasing 3.9 percent next year, which is similar to the rate that on-campus housing prices are rising next year.
Students reaction to the prices is mixed—several people currently living in the houses said that the rent isn’t drastically different from what they are paying now, while others are less than thrilled. Sean Gard, a junior that will continue living in one of the neighborhood units next year, said his rent will be going up by about $200. He pays $1050 a month and next year he will pay a little over $1200 for rent.
“Utilities are included in the rate, which they were not before under RealSource, so when you boil it down they probably not going to experience any net rate increase,” Barrantes said.
Nine of the 20 units are filled up for next school year, since students living in the homes this year had the option of applying to live in the units last November. According to Barrantes, 46 percent of the units are currently occupied by juniors, the majority of which applied to live in the units.
Juniors and seniors can apply to live in the remaining 11 units beginning on Wednesday, Jan. 13, through ecampus.
Some students have also expressed concerns about using flat rates in each home to price each room.
“The one problem with having a set single or double price for all four rooms is that they vary in size quite a bit,” said senior Joe Neumeyer, who lives in one of neighborhood units. “For one of our rooms we are paying $1,500 and the cheapest is room is $1,000, we just do that by square footage, so if everybody is paying $1,200 it’s a little bit unfair because there’s so much variation in room sizes.”
Barrantes said that Santa Clara hired a company to map out floor plans and assist the university with pricing the units as fairly as possible.
“One of the huge advantages to living in one of the houses is that, if someone drops out of the neighborhood unit, rather than have to cover their costs like you would in a normal house, you will still have the same flat rate throughout the entire year,” said senior Jason Back, the Associated Student Government parliamentarian.
Students have a choice of living in singles, doubles, or in some cases, triples. Some students are complaining that the homes will be overcrowded. This year, 11 people are living in 805 Bellomy Street, known as Fishbowl, and next year it will accommodate up to 15 students.
“I cannot believe they are putting 15 people into this house, that is ridiculous,” said a junior Fishbowl resident that wishes to remain anonymous. “I am concerned about the health and safety of those students, that’s disgusting—fifteen people to one kitchen and two showers, and they are broken.”
He added that he and his fellow housemates had originally signed a two-year lease on the house but now have to find accommodations elsewhere for next year because they don’t want to live in a neighborhood unit.
However, Barrantes said that by no means will fifteen people have to live in the house, since the minimum occupancy on the house is seven students.
Real Source Property Management, which manages the majority of off-campus student residences, will be raising its rates by ten percent compared to what they charged for houses in the neighborhood last year, Barrantes said.
“As a byproduct of the school taking over certain houses there is more of a demand for the houses that are still managed by Real Source so Real Source can charge higher rents on those units,” said another junior Fishbowl resident who also wished to remain anonymous. “For example, Belvisos last year costed $750 per person and now it’s going to be $950 per person.”
The administration originally announced that students living in the units would be required to purchase a meal plan, but the university has nixed this requirement after receiving student feedback against the policy, said vice president for finance and administration, Michael Hindery. However, tenants will always have the option to purchase a meal plan.
The biggest concern students have raised about the neighborhood units pertains to the presence of Campus Safety.
Santa Clara’s website states that Campus Safety will respond to the neighborhood units “when needed or appropriate” and will work “in conjunction with the Santa Clara Police Department.”
“I think the main worry for next year is Campus Safety and what rights and powers they will have in terms of coming into houses and the potential outcome it will have on the party scene next year,” said senior Ben Katz.
ASG has been pushing for the administration to be more forthcoming about the extent in which campus safety will patrol the neighborhood units.
“They will be able to see if there are any suspicious individuals trying to get into the houses and they will be able to add an extra police presence to the area, but we would like to hear some more concrete statements about what the discipline side of things looks like,” said Neil Datar, junior ASG senator and chair of a committee charged with responding to the creation of the new units.
However, Barrantes said that campus safety will not be patrolling the area looking for trouble—they will respond to complaints from neighbors if they call in to report loud noise and other issues.
Barrantes said that if a unit receives a noise complaint, Campus Safety will first call the residents to give them a warning, and if the tenants do not heed the warning, Campus Safety will respond to the house.
“We are not looking to have campus safety or anybody from the university barging into the homes,” Hindery said. “We have an obligation to health and safety and life and safety issues and so we respond to those kinds of situations. We are not at all interested in the kinds of situations where campus safety is looking into windows.”
Sophomore McAlister Alday said that he is considering living in one of the neighborhood units, but is unsure if he can because he wants to study abroad next year.
According to Barrantes, students studying abroad are able to live in the units if they can find someone to take their place in the house for the quarter during they will be gone.
Tenants will be able to move into the units on Sept. 1 because the homes will be renovated.
Depending on what the homes need, the renovations will range from paint jobs and window installation to roof repairs and water heater replacement. Some tenants may be able to live in the neighborhood units before Sept. 1 if their homes don’t require extensive renovations, Hindery said.
“I think there have been situations where the students have been taken advantage of by landlords,” Hindery said. “By that I mean the houses aren’t well maintained, the landlords don’t put in any money into it, and the students kind of live in dumps, to be crass. I think we’ve tried to help the students understand that landlords have responsibilities to them.”
Students will have the option of living in the villas in the summer while their homes are being renovated. In the future, students will be able to live in the units in the summer months, Hindery said.
Contact Sophie Mattson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4849.