By LAUREN SCHRICKER
While current Allegheny students are breathing a sigh of relief that they’ll still have the freedom to live off-campus as seniors, local landlords expect the worst as a result of changes in Allegheny’s residency requirement.
“I’ve known it was in the works for years.” said Tony Esposito, who currently leases two houses to Allegheny students. “I rent to 99 percent college students. If I can’t get kids to rent the houses, then I’ve got to sell them.”
Last year, Esposito sold one of his houses to the college after noticing the school was moving toward the creation of a more residential campus.
Larry Lee, vice president of finance and planning, believes that when the four-year residency requirement is implemented, it will not affect the landlord community as much as many might think.
“We’re only talking about it impacting a limited number of students, a few dozen,” he said. “There are only a certain number of beds on campus. The four-year residency requirement just ensures that all beds will be full,” said Lee.
The problem for local landlords, however, is that rentals have already declined significantly due to the three-year residency requirement.
“My places were rented by Thanksgiving each year until a couple of years ago,” Esposito said.
“This year I’ve had not one phone call about the houses yet.”
Local landlords have seen this trend develop.
“We did not get the house rented last year, and it’s not rented for this year either. And there have been no calls for next year yet,” said
Susan Gould, who rents one house to Allegheny students.
Gould said she had been informed of the new residency requirements from The Meadville Tribune, but had not heard about the exact details. Fellow local landlord Sam Enterline was unaware of the terms of the residency requirement as well.
“It definitely made a difference when they opened the North Villages,” said Enterline, who only has ten of his twelve apartments and houses leased to college students. “I used to rent a lot earlier in the year and I’m only just now getting calls for next year.”
“You can’t charge a single family for rent what you can charge six or seven college students. It’s definitely a detriment to business,” he said.
For some landlords worried about losing student residents, selling is the best option.
“I’m very fortunate that my houses are typical single family houses and easy to sell.”