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SGA developing resource for student renters

SGA developing resource for student renters

SGA developing resource for student renters
October 05
11:59 2019

An upcoming SGA service may help students navigate the world of student housing through advice and reviews from previous renters.

SGA Strategic Planning Director Brightyn Patterson said the organization wants to send out housing surveys around November for renters to document their experience with apartments around Denton, later publishing the results of the survey online for public viewing.

“It’s kind of a rating system for different apartments in the Denton area,” Patterson said. “It’s making sure they’re held accountable by UNT students.”

SGA members have not yet finalized all details of the housing survey initiative, which Patterson says may be complete by the spring semester. For now, the plan encompasses off-campus apartments, though it is unclear if campus dormitories will appear in reviews.

“I really would love [a survey] for everyone that’s housed in Denton, whether it be on-campus or off-campus,” Patterson said. “There’s different dorms that also have their own little things that are wrong with them, so we want to make sure that students know, that incoming freshmen know.”

The rating system would most likely operate on a five-point scale and rate different aspects of an apartment, like the presence of mold or quality of furniture, to reach an average rating, Patterson said, though SGA members are still working on a finalized system.

SGA intends to base its service on an existing resource called “Break Up With Your Landlord,” provided by the Minnesota Student Association, a student advocacy group at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. Patterson says SGA gained approval from MSA to develop a similar program for UNT using their current system.

Break Up With Your Landlord features information on common housing misconceptions and a list of questions renters may want to ask themselves before leasing a new apartment.

SGA would adjust some aspects of the MSA program partly by tailoring some of the survey questions to existing or past problems with some Denton apartments, Patterson said.

Criminal justice junior Brittany Heckel said the SGA housing survey would have helped her when attempting to quickly find a suitable apartment within walking distance from UNT.

“I knew nothing about the apartments before moving in,” Heckel said. “I was planning on staying in the dorms for the Fall 2017 semester but was told by UNT housing there wouldn’t be enough space for me. It left me pretty frantic to find somewhere to stay only a few weeks before the semester started.”

Heckel found an apartment close to UNT, but wishes she had access to more student reviews before choosing her current apartment after dealing with recurring issues.

“The apartment itself is nice, and I liked the fact that they had it furnished,” Heckel said. “The only thing I’m constantly disappointed in is the way maintenance responds to issues. They’ll take days to come and fix repairs. There have also been several times since I’ve been living there that the elevators have been out for days without being fixed.”

Philosophy master’s student Caralyn Dawson echoed some of Heckel’s complaints about maintenance delays when describing her own experience with off-campus student housing.

Dawson said she experienced hardships with her former Denton student apartment, most notably last year when one of her roommates was killed in a car accident.

Following the accident, Dawson said staff at her apartment mishandled the victim’s belongings by not assisting Dawson and other roommates with transitioning the apartment for a new tenant.

“I realize the [apartment] probably doesn’t have a lot of experience with tenants dying, but I feel like a lot of this would have been handled better if they’d had the actual managers dealing with things,” Dawson said. “The student workers generally don’t communicate with each other, so you can go in two days in a row and get two different answers.”

Dawson said apartment staff often miscommunicated details about the transition process, leaving her and other roommates to send the victim’s personal mail back to family members and keep up with her former pet, which eventually came home with Dawson.

“They didn’t really have any answers for us about how we should be involved in letting her family into the apartment, helping them move things out, and were really vague about how fast the turnaround would be in getting someone else into that room,” Dawson said.

Things would have gone differently, Dawson said, if she had access to more information about student living arrangements.

“I would have chosen to live in non-student living instead,” Dawson said. “I’ve only been in my current non-student living apartment for a few months but it’s been such a better experience…I feel like with non-student living, complexes are less likely to try to screw tenants over because they know actual adults are less likely to take it than students, who probably are in their first apartment and have less of an idea of their rights are.”

Featured Image: The Student Government Association is working on creating a housing survey where students can rate and discuss housing options on and off campus such as Rawlins Hall. Image by Isabel Anes

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Carter Mize

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