At the end of September, students at the University of Wisconsin are just adjusting to classes and campus life.
At the same time, they are already being asked to commit to their life situation for another year.
As resignature pressure increases in early October, students living in off-campus housing are forced to think about signing leases for the 2022-2023 academic year. Although many students have only been living in their current accommodation for about a month, owners have started to contact students about renting and resigning for the next rental period.
“You move in, you live there for a few weeks and you already have to decide if you want to stay or if you want to move,” said UW junior Lilli VanHandel. “Then you have to look for new places like other people are trying to decide. Sometimes you feel like you’re stuck in a corner because you’re trying to figure something out so quickly.
With the tight deadline to sign leases and the limited options for affordable off-campus housing in Madison, students are easily overwhelmed with housing searches. The owners of some neighborhoods are setting re-signing dates as of October 6.
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Students list many reasons why they are not comfortable signing this at the start of the year. They also point out that the timeframe for signing a lease in Madison is not comparable to that of other schools.
“I feel like you don’t really know the bad or the good parts [of a house] yet or whether you like the location or not, ”said UW junior Bailee Fritz. “Also, when it comes to people, you only live with them for a very short time, so you don’t really know if you’re good roommates. I feel like a lot of schools don’t start signing until March or April, so I feel like even [signing] at that point that would be good.
Madison City District 8 Alderman Juliana Bennett, the campus area representative, said the issues stem from larger issues with the Wisconsin legislature.
The UW elder explained that because the Wisconsin legislature stopped regulating rental periods and costs, owners are now free to determine these factors themselves. Since there is no more oversight from the state government, the local government has little power to tackle trends such as early registration dates.
The city was also able to require landlords not to ask tenants to start signing leases by a certain date. But since the Wisconsin state legislature blocked the city from doing so, Bennett said management companies can create an “artificial panic” as units fill up.
“There isn’t enough affordable student housing,” Bennett said. “This is in part because the Wisconsin legislature has blocked the city from instituting most affordable housing initiatives such as inclusive zoning and rent controls, which are proven methods of creating affordable housing in some areas. regions. “
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Over the past decade, Bennett said downtown Madison has changed dramatically due to an influx of luxury apartment buildings with high unit densities. With these additions, the cost of housing has increased dramatically due to current market rates, despite promises from development companies that rental costs would go down.
Because local governments cannot approve or disprove a project based on the proposed rent charges, Bennet said local government is particularly limited in how they can proactively address these issues. Bennett believes luxury apartment developers need to become more responsible for the situation they put their tenants in.
“My best advice to anyone is to relax because you will find a home to live in,” Bennett said. “There are plenty of places on campus and around Madison. As an alder, I have seen so many situations where students are abused by their owners.
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Bennett said educating freshmen and sophomores about the off-campus housing process would also help alleviate stress and give students information.
One of Bennett’s goals as alderman is to create a city-wide database that would include information on the housing units available at any given time. This information would be shared with local newspapers for publication so that students would know what housing options are still available.
While Bennett hopes the city will eventually administer lease signing deadlines and implement affordable housing measures, she said students should be aware of their rights and educate themselves about the options available to them. .
Students like VanHandel and Fritz have said they would like to live with people for at least two or three months before signing a lease. With this amount of time, they said it would be easier to settle into a routine, get to know their roommates, and figure out what they like and don’t like about their current life situation.
“Obviously, you can find anywhere to live,” VanHandel said. “But finding a place that you love and that is affordable is difficult.”