Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

MSA-Sponsored "Rate My Rental" Site to Launch this Fall

8. August 2004 • Brian Kerr
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The Ann Arbor News reports on an upcoming MSA project—a collaborative website that will allow students to rate their apartments or housing complexes, and give landlords opportunity to respond. The site, which is still in development, will be launched ahead of the annual housing crunch this fall. According to the article, MSA is planning to publicize the site (in an effort to get students to populate the database) alongside a general push to educate students of their rights as tenants.

We’ll note the launch of the site and any related items of interest here.

  1. Finally.
       —e    Aug. 8 '04 - 03:19PM    #
  2. I like this project, though I wish it were county-wide (or at least the surrounding townships and Ypsi) and I wish it were open to non-students. I understand why MSA might not fund such a thing, however. I’ve had a similar idea though haven’t had time or resources to put it together—so I’m glad someone got around to it. This begins to make amends for MSA’s axing of the Tenants Union funding.
       —Scott Trudeau    Aug. 8 '04 - 04:24PM    #
  3. It sounds good ideally, but some should consider the number of negative comments students are more than willing to share, as opposed to the few they have to struggle to remember. They do generally come from privately owned houses that don’t have high occupant turnovers, so expectations should be a little more realistic (especially if the students themselves are partially responsible for initiating repairs). Still, knowledge is power, so more power to the people.
       —Sam Douglas    Aug. 11 '04 - 02:28PM    #
  4. Tenants everywhere need to be informed of past and current conflicts between the various Landlords and their tenants. However this new message board is in no way a replacement for the Tenants Union.

    People get burned by Landlords every day in Ann Arbor and we need a strong organization that can help Tenants address these issues as they occur.

    Reading about how these Landlords are ripping us off is not going to stop their behavior. It will look bad for a Landlord to have numerous complaints posted against them. However in a tight housing market, like Ann Arbor, people have to live some where. Lots of people are going to end up Tenants of even the worst of Ann Arbor’s Landlords.

    Landlords want to maximize their profits and will do as little as possible to keep up their properties. The worst of the Landlords are those who refuse to make repairs, steal security deposits, and violate privacy. These Landlords will only change their behavior when Tenants are able to effectively challange the power of the Landlords as a group. As isolated individuals we are easy pray for greedy landlords.

    Hopefully the website will be a networking tool for Tenants to get together and make some changes.
       —greedkills    Aug. 12 '04 - 01:36AM    #
  5. While I agree with “greedkills” that this is only one small part of an effective Tenants’ Union-style advocacy program, I think it will be valuable and perhaps even influential.

    I’ve seen data (that was truly startling to me) pegging the rental housing vacancy rate in Ann Arbor at above 20% in the last year. With AATA’s routes now free to students (making it slightly easier to live in the further-flung parts of town) and that many options available, I think that the slumlords who have previously relied on proximity to campus (and students’ ignorance of property conditions) ought to be a little frightened of information tools like this.

    This will, of course, require positive feedback to be given, where appropriate, for maximum benefit, and I’m interested in how exactly they plan to keep people from gaming the system, but it’s better than no information, regardless.
       —Murph    Aug. 12 '04 - 02:36PM    #
  6. 2000 census.
    Rental vacancy rate (percent)2.6

    UM off campus housing.
    Information submitted by 165 of the 565 landlords registered with the Off-Campus Housing Program as of September 8th, 2003.
    The percentage of rental units vacant at the beginning of Fall semester 2003 was 8%. Survey also says that average rental rates increased by 9.9% from last year.

    Ann Arbor is still a tight and expensive market for tenants.
    There are more options for housing developing but all of it is expensive and traveling in to town from far flung areas eats up time and money.

    I agree that the website will be a good step forward. This information needs to be public so we can easily identify the slumlords and take action against them.
       —greedkills    Aug. 15 '04 - 01:16AM    #