Ahh … We’re right around the corner from the most wonderful time of the year: The leaves will have just started to change, the once-warm breeze will be just beginning to carry a hint of winter, and the students of the University of Wisconsin will be stirring from their comfortable abodes they just moved into only a couple months before to join the hunt for next year’s bed.

Thrilling isn’t it — you either race to grab a spot in one of the cool high-rises on campus or race to find a cheap seat in the slums. But no matter how you swing it, the monthly rate on the lease is going to suck.

Alright, I guess nothing can be free, but I think we can all agree the average price of rent near the UW campus is a little obnoxious.

I’m not even talking about the Hub, Lucky or Grand Central.

I’m currently living a block too far on the wrong side of Regent Street in an older five-bedroom house with chipped paint and holes in the walls, and our monthly rate for rent as a whole is almost $3,200. Similar houses near the University of Minnesota, according to Adobo anyway, are substantially cheaper, even almost up to $1,000 less.

No wonder I always feel like we students of UW are getting hosed when comparing rent with friends who attend other universities.

Sure, there are always going to be those hidden gems around campus with actually reasonable rent, but the problem is only a select group of property management companies own the vast majority of the properties aimed toward UW students. On top of that, each of these companies have their own turf around campus. The fact that Tallard Apartments, LLC seems to hang out around Camp Randall along with the wrong side of Regent and JSM Properties, LLC seems to dominate the sophomore slums area are just a couple of examples of this.

While I guess it ultimately makes sense to keep all your properties in a relatively close vicinity for management purposes, the issue is a sort of property monopoly forms in each of these neighborhoods.

There can’t really be any be competition for the best value between one place and the house next door because the same landlord often owns the house next door.

Even if these companies continue to be the powerhouse forces they are today, and the individual management companies just spread out their properties to create a more even distribution around campus, that would form some sort of competition and bring the price of rent down.

Phil Michaelson ([email protected]) is a junior majoring in biomedical engineering.