Locals and students discuss student housing disparities

Gloria Rodriguez is tired of landlords discriminating against her.

Outdated websites and vague posts make the housing search frustrating enough, and it becomes a bigger hassle when many listings prohibit undergraduate students from applying at all, she said. 

“I don’t need to be a doctor to be a decent adult,” the 19-year-old sophomore said.

Although some Gainesville apartments are geared toward students, others are listed as professional or graduate housing only.

One realtor advertised a house near the Mark Bostick Golf Course with a sign that read “no students.”

Rodriguez said she believes landlords assume students party a lot, and that it’s insulting to assume undergraduates are not capable of maintaining a household.

“Less difficult, less competitive classes mean more time to be hooligans,” she said.

Landlords also take advantage of students’ limited options by increasing prices for small amenities, such as patios and fridges, Rodriguez said.

To avoid a lousy experience, she said, enter the housing search prepared.

“Start early, keep options relatively flexible and, for the love of God, choose potential roommates wisely,” she said.

Companies such as Bosshardt Realty and Carl Turlington Real Estate listed houses near UF’s campus and specified the homes “will not be leased to undergraduate students.”

Bosshardt Realty declined to comment, and Carl Turlington Real Estate could not be reached as of press time.

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibits real estate agents from discriminating against people based on biological factors including age, Laura Garcia, an administrative assistant for Secure Investment Realty, wrote in an email.

However, different rules govern privately owned property, she wrote.

Lea Knezevich, a property manager for Campus Realty, said none of their properties are age-restricted, but that other landlords view undergraduate students as irresponsible.

“Students are young and they are having and going to parties, and sometimes this can lead to costly repairs,” Knezevich wrote in an email.    

She said landlords with small units may benefit from seeking graduate students or older tenants, but those with larger properties often can’t find renters when banning undergraduates.

Knezevich said undergraduate students can overcome obstacles to housing by offering a larger deposit as insurance or by researching Florida’s laws regarding age discrimination.

“We do have some owners that would prefer older students, but in the end, it is who is able to pay the rent,” she said.

Original post here: http://www.alligator.org/news/local/article_7ad37f3e-f0b7-11e5-9509-cf4e13a905ec.html