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A Letter to Boston’s Landlords

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at BC chapter.

To the Landlords of Boston, Massachusetts renting to poor, disgruntled college students:

Let me first say that you are brave individuals. Having seen and lived in a decent number of off-campus houses and apartments in Boston, I know what college students are capable of, and it can be scary. Let me also say that I understand that being a landlord and a property manager is your source of income, and I respect the fact that collecting rent from me and my peers is how you pay for food, gas, life, etc.

However, after following the investigations of off-campus housing in the Boston area, I can’t help but ask myself one question:

If you have kids, would you let them live in the apartments you rent?

For the most part, I’ve had very kind, sympathetic and dutiful landlords, thankfully. If something is broken, it will eventually be fixed. Once, my roommate and I accidentally turn our hair dryers on at the same time, and our landlord actually came and helped us find the fuse box at 8 pm on a Friday (believe it or not, it happened). However, the condition of the house compared to the price of the rent each month, not including utilities and every payment required for the realtor fees, is nothing short of suspicious.

I also recognize that the landlord/leasee relationship is a complicated one when the renters are overeager party animals. The number of basements I’ve been in that haven’t had at least a thin layer of Natural Light film on the floor is literally zero. I know that renting to boys makes the number of holes in the wall higher; I admit renting to girls means that the bathroom sink is going to be a disaster area because of all the hair shedding. Renting to college students means that your property is going to get a little bit more lovin’ than it probably can handle.

Off-campus is a little more glamorous in the movies, like the Old School frat house

But what about the rats? What about the gas stoves that never get inspected or the fire alarms that never turn on? What about the little things, like the fact that the outlets are almost never 3-pronged or that there is almost no guarantee that every single one of the light fixtures in a given room will work—or even that there is an overhead light fixture in any room?

What about the leaks from the first floor shower to the basement, conveniently situated directly above the outlet for the dryer? How does that not scream ‘I’m an electrical fire waiting to happen’? What about the broken stairs, or the broken porch balconies? What about the fact you can lift up the kitchen countertop, reach in, and grab a fork—drawers not required.

I have a general understanding of the way this relationship works. Us college students have nowhere to go if our universities don’t have enough on-campus housing, and because of a little system called “supply and demand,” we are at the mercy of what you’ll charge for rent. But would you agree to pay $3400 a month for your son or daughter to live in an apartment that’s unsafe, or even just disgusting?

As a senior who lived off-campus at Boston College for two and half years, I am very happy that Boston’s mayor, Martin Walsh, is investigating housing situations for college students and that there are plans to more strongly enforce regulations. I don’t think any college student expects to be living in the Ritz Carlton while they’re abandoned from BC Housing and cast off to Foster St. But, I think the living conditions should match the price tag, and all over Boston, it’s pretty evident that that is not always the case.

I’ve been a lucky renter as a BC student for the most part, but I know others who have had terrible experiences and students all over the city in worse situations. Hopefully in the coming years, Mayor Walsh’s plan to improve student off-campus housing will be a successful one.


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Meghan Gibbons is a double major in Communications and Political Science in her senior year at Boston College. Although originally from New Jersey, she is a huge fan of all Boston sports! Along with her at Boston College is her identical twin, who she always enjoys playing twin pranks with. Meghan is a huge foodie, book worm and beach bum