For many students, college is the first time that they will live away from home for an extended amount of time. This is the first time they are responsible for finding and living in their own off campus apartments.
Given their relative inexperience, it is certainly good to see some students taking initiative and challenging the decisions of local governments and private universities in the courtroom.
Boston’s Roommate Crackdown
An undergrad at Boston College has joined with local property owners to file suit against the city of Boston over a new ordinance that would set the limit of 4 students per rental property. According to the Small Property Owners of America, the Boston City Council passed the ordinance without consulting landlords and after only 10 minutes of debate. This is no small zoning alteration, especially in Boston, where about a quarter of the population is comprised of college students.
The common thread that has united neighborhood groups and community leaders supporting the ordinance are complaints of loud parties and nocturnal revelry. Students argue that the influx of college students into the Boston neighborhoods has displaced crime and helped local businesses.
The recently passed ordinance leaves students and landlords who have already entered into leasing agreements for the fall unsure of how to proceed.
Sophomore Jessica Luccio has joined four area landlords who are seeking to overturn the ordinance by filing a motion in the Massachusetts Land Court. Students feel as though they are being unfairly singled out and will be forced into expensive apartment rentals if they cannot find larger homes for rent.
Colgate University Sued for Monopolizing Housing
Students at a Colgate University fraternity sued the school after a new school policy required that all students live on campus. The fraternity alleged that not only had the school coerced fraternities into selling their privately owned houses to the school, but that the action was also in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890.
By buying up a majority of the housing available to students and then forcing students to live in those properties, Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE), alleged that the school had therefore monopolized the relevant housing market. The school, however, claimed that the relevant market was liberal arts colleges nationwide, since they must compete with these institutions for students.
Although DKE countered by claiming that once a student had matriculated and paid a substantial initial cost, the local housing market became the relevant market, the court sided with the University and threw out the lawsuit.
We will be following the lawsuit in Boston and highlight details from the ordinance’s fallout. In the meantime, best of luck to college students looking for off campus apartments for rent!