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Council hopes to better relations with landlords

Don't get along with your landlord? Think he's a sleazy, miserly skinflint? Does your landlord threaten to get a court injunction over the pile of beer cans and used prophylactics collecting outside your door?

Well, don't fret - Student Council is on your side.

In a press statement released July 17, Council announced plans to increase efforts to improve relations between students and their landlords.

Council President Joe Bilby said the efforts are aimed at encouraging students to be "good citizens of the Charlottesville community" and empowering them to make "informed decisions regarding off-Grounds housing."

Council Housing Committee Co-chairman Nathan Cook said Council is concerned that some students are living in sub-standard off-Grounds housing.

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    "The situation for students living off-Grounds is less than desirable in some circumstances," Cook said. "Landlords are inattentive to not only their duties as landlords, but also to specific requests from students."

    Council Housing Committee Co-chairwoman Katherine Martini, who has been working with Cook on the project, said she hopes to concentrate the project's efforts on safety in off-Grounds housing.

    "My goal is to focus on issues of the safety of off-Grounds housing ... by providing better information to students when they are making decisions about off-Grounds housing," Martini said.

    Wade Apartments General Manager Wade Tremblay said he supported Council's efforts to better educate students about the decisions they make when they live off-Grounds, but said Charlottesville landlords generally are very responsible.

    Tremblay said it pays off to have good landlord-tenant relations because so much business is based on referrals and repeat renters.

    "Our biggest source of rentals comes from word-of-mouth," he said.

    Rick Jones, general manager of Management Services Corporation, said Council's efforts to educate students about contracts will be helpful.

    "Most professional owners bend over backwards to go over everything" in a lease, Jones said. "Where owners have had problems before, they go over it - but that's not on the students' mind" when they are signing a lease.

    Council's initiatives also will include a Website, which will be ready sometime during the fall semester, a bill of rights for rentors, and a checklist of basic safety measures to look for when renting off-Grounds.

    Council will also be providing information so that students can contact police officers and ask them to do walk-through safety inspections.

    In conjunction with these efforts, Bilby said Council will form the Cavalier Tenants Association to represent student interests in rental debates.

    The association will consist of Council members and students who are interested in the issue of off-Grounds housing.