Mark up another one for some of the most reviled and feared individuals in this city, but be sure to wash it off after because you already know you’re going to get shafted on that security deposit.
Last week, the city’s Housing Committee shot down a proposal to push back the dates when landlords may show properties to prospective renters. By a vote of three to seven, against a proposal that garnered so much attention from the Associated Students of Madison, concerned students and just generally decent people, we’re entering into shit-show territory here.
To set the stage: it’s freshman year, you’ve recently found your niche amid this strange new environment known as “college” and you’re itching to take complete advantage of your newfound freedoms. You’re an adult; it’s time for a legally binding contract.
So you vet your acquaintances for suitable roommates, schedule some hasty showings of properties in the area and sit back knowing full well that it’s going to be “totally sweet” living in your own place next year. Then the inevitable occurs. The dudes in the room next to you already signed a lease, and you’ve gotten word that what’s-his-face from 6A signed on for a house that is purportedly “going to have some ragers, bro.” When all the world is being rented up around you, what can be done but join in the frenzy?
The ill-fated proposal started receiving attention last fall as Ald. Bridget Maniaci, District 2, worked toward a solution that would have ostensibly lessened some of the stress put on students to find some buddies, find adequate shelter and sign a lease. But as is the case with so much in local politics, time constraints, making quorum and nitpicking over legislation and municipal code forced the measure to be referred again and again.
WhenASMtook notice, they made a refreshingly proactive effort to generate interest and promote education on this topic. Representatives fromASM’s Legislative Affairs Committee brought students out in droves to show that students would not sit idly by as an arguably exploitive practice continued to be implemented.
Then summer came around, students opted to exercise their livers at the Terrace rather than their rights at the Madison Municipal Building, and interest waned. Enter the landlords and their attorneys last week, laying waste to what had been built up only months before.
The proposal would threaten the jobs of numerous property managers and their representatives, they said. It would only lead to legal troubles and arguments between landlords and tenants, they said. With few left sober or willing to hoof it out to the committee meetings, the renters’ voice fell silent andASM,the ones who bared their fangs against the proposal, sat idly by.
What’s particularly frustrating about the latest vote is that there is really no one to blame.ASMis stretched thin in terms of resources and finances this early on in the school year, there’s relatively little coverage of such meetings aimed primarily at students thus far.
Getting a whole hell of a lot done while trying to adjust to new schedules, jobs and other responsibilities that come along with a new academic year is rough. It’s only common sense for the property management companies to swoop in like suited vultures and gut this proposal at such an opportune moment.
Though the outcome of the most recent vote is disappointing, the opportunity yet exists for a resurrection. Maniaci has expressed a desire to bring the proposal before the City Council in the hopes of having the vote overturned. This may very well be a second chance. Hopefully we can see some progress before the rush to rent begins, but more importantly, if and when that time arises, you can go to the meetings and make yourself heard.
Jake Begun ([email protected]) is a junior majoring in journalism.