June 5, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 72°F


Commentary: Regulations must be placed on landlords

Editor’s Note: This is a guest commentary. The opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial board.

Most students that attend Ithaca College will at some point find themselves living off campus. Because of the college’s strict rules on housing, living off campus can only occur during a student’s senior year. The streets surrounding Ithaca College are filled with houses that may appear to be safe and adequate from the outside, but the inside is a different story. Landlords and property managers in the Ithaca area are not being held accountable by any governing body for the quality and safety of their properties. Off-campus housing needs improvement. Many students will come to find that housing conditions off campus are less than adequate and sometimes dangerous.  

Student housing surrounds the college. Off-campus housing is an appealing option for senior students who are looking for cheaper housing options. Landlords in the Ithaca area know that off-campus housing is desirable for students and therefore can charge whatever price they see fit because it will likely be a cheaper option than the college can provide. Housing prices off campus are more affordable than on campus, but this deduction in price does not always make up for the condition of the house. More often than not, the houses are unclean, and sometimes there are issues with infestations, broken and uneven floors, damaged walls and doors, serious malfunctions with heating systems and lack of general upkeep that should be expected from the landlords or property managers.

While landlords are at fault for the conditions of their houses, not all blame can be put onto them. On-campus housing, in some cases, is two to three times more expensive than housing off-campus. So, it is no surprise that students will sign leases for houses of subpar quality to avoid the financial burden of on-campus housing through Ithaca College. 

Students at Ithaca College already pay high tuition. If living off campus is cheaper, then some students see this as one of the only affordable options available to them at such an expensive institution. Living off campus is a part of college that many people will experience. So, something needs to be done to ensure that safer houses are available. While regulations on landlords are already fairly strict in the state of New York, there is a lack of the governing body checking properties to ensure that landlords are following current regulations. Instead of landlords being the main party responsible for checking the quality of the properties, Ithaca could implement a program that sends certified officials to inspect the properties more frequently. While there is no apparent responsibility for Ithaca College to help with the living conditions off campus, it would mean a great deal to students like myself. Ithaca College has recognized that it has the ability to be a part of the solution by setting up a website that provides students with information about off-campus housing. The college has set the groundwork for a great program, however, it lacks awareness. Promoting the site is a great way to start helping students make more informed decisions regarding off-campus housing.

While there are numerous solutions to this problem, the essence of the issue can be addressed with good ethics. Landlords need to be held accountable for providing housing to their tenants. Ithaca needs to apply stricter regulations to landlords. It is my hope for future students who are planning to live off campus that conditions are safer, cleaner and up to date. Relationships between landlords and tenants need to be rooted in trust, honesty and good ethics. Being that I am a student who lives off campus, and I know many students who live off campus, I am very close to the issue at hand. Many times I have been in off campus houses that are not clean when students move in. Sometimes I even question the safety of homes as walls, floors and ceilings are in need of repairs. Something needs to be done for future Ithaca College students. Students who choose to live off campus cannot continue to live in these conditions. 

Sam Chaney (he/him) is a senior architectural studies major. Contact him at schaney@ithaca.edu.