Editorial | Landlords’ exploitations impair living conditions

By The Daily Illini Editorial Board

Apartment and leasing nightmares are one of the most abundant resources the Champaign-Urbana area offers. Whether it is the tale of someone off the street ravaging a resident’s bedding or the annual “Homeless Week” where students are suddenly vagrant between leases, there is no shortage of leasing terrors.

In a constant contest to exploit student leasers, apartment companies incompetently manage and provide unpleasant conditions to Illini. Moreover, present residential circumstances in C-U are producing housing inequality alongside contemptible services to students. Thus, reform is long overdue.

Underutilized services like Student Legal Services already exist to aid students in this venture, yet Illini deserve improved relief with lease reform and long-term strategies.

The typical relationship between landlord and tenant in C-U is frail at best. Seemingly, only responsive to the threat of poor reviews, and repeatedly holding security deposits for little to no reason, landlords reign over C-U due to little accountability. Therefore, the premier place for lease reform to begin is with further implementation of the tenant rights legally listed by Off-Campus Community Living.

Appearing on the list are several violations that, nearly occurring daily, receive little to no response other than criticism on the University’s Reddit page: roof/ceiling leaks and/or infestations to name a few.

The rise of luxury apartments in C-U also represents a need for local housing refinements. “Nobody earning under 150% of the federal poverty level can afford rents in Champaign-Urbana,” reported the News-Gazette in August 2019.

With the advancement of opulent apartments, little development has been made to better affordable housing options across campus. Likewise, with the rise in these apartments, students’ budgets are being dedicated less to other necessities.

An immense implication of these rising costs has been the escalation in food insecurity. In May, Illinois Newsroom documented Ricardo Lopez, a senior at the time, as an example of the consequences of increasing housing prices.

“I did not have the financial literacy or sort of like the ‘know-how’ to really examine a lease and kind of budget for what it really meant,” Lopez contended. Fortunately, resources like the Food Assistance & Well-Being Program and Bevier Cafe counterpoise food insecurity from these leases, yet these are only band-aids in the injurious landscape where landlords overpower students.

Furthermore, “Homeless Week,” every August, represents Illini in between leases spawning situations where students are forced to obtain storage units, hotel rooms or impromptu stays with friends.

Despite certain landlords allowing tenants to move in early to avoid this dilemma, other students may find themselves with disconnected 12-month leases. Although the only viable option remains to ask a willing landlord, deficient solutions persist without proper address.

C-U, currently, is a playground for leasing companies to capitalize on college students. Power, subsequently, is endowed to these landlords who regularly disregard Illini’s concerns and housing troubles. Besides local government action, students should recognize and seek out OCCL or Student Legal Services if they perceive dilemmas.

The “same old same old” consent given to appalling landlords cannot be offered. One must inform themself of their rights, as legally declared by OCCL, and advocate for refined leasing conditions and additional affordable housing options on campus.

Without local pressure, leasing companies will endure in their exploitations of apathetic tenants.

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Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to Off-Campus Community Living as its former name, The Tenant Union. The Daily Illini regrets this error.