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Payne: We fuel our own “problem”

BY DANNY PAYNE | JULY 31, 2014 5:00 AM

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So, I’m homeless.

Kind of — not homeless in terms of wandering aimlessly around the Pedestrian Mall with no place to go, but homeless in terms of being in-between leases, just like seemingly all but one of my friends.

Luckily, I’ll only have to sleep on a basement floor for a few nights before I move into the new house on Friday. It’s the first time I’ll experience the magical time of the year when everyone suddenly becomes best friends with that one buddy of a buddy or the kid you sat next to freshman year who wasn’t too much of a sucker to buy into the rental-company culture in Iowa City.

For those that are unaware, the way some leases work for off-campus student housing is this: The previous year’s lease ends a few days — usually a week or so — before the new one begins.

The thing is, everyone in the same boat as me knew what he or she was getting into when they signed their lease and decided to move — and there is nothing we can do about it. We signed on a line and acknowledged that we would not be tenants of a place of dwelling.

Some could look to point the finger elsewhere and blame the landlord, but that’d be inappropriate.

Some could moan about how landlords and/or rental companies should work with each other and let students move in early while they clean and inspect each residence before the new lease begins. But put yourself in their shoes — that’s not a good business decision.

What I’m getting at here is that we’re just cogs in the machine of a business model that strongly favors the housing providers.

What are we going to do? A hotel is an option, sure, but some students — me included — would rather take a look at the contact list in their phone instead of paying a hefty bill.

You could stay in the storage unit you may have rented to put your stuff in because you had to move that as well. You could go home (if home is far away) and miss class or work or go door-to-door and look for a roof to put over your head.

None of those seem too appetizing.

But in the long run, this isn’t a huge deal. You find a friend, stay out of their hair during the day, and come back at bedtime. I’m not going to die; I’m not going to have any lasting trauma from my current lack of housing, and I’ll move in Friday to a comfy house close to campus.

I’ll avoid moving a year from now and will stay in my new digs, and watch everyone I didn’t manage to tell about my situation be without a home. Some may ask me if they can stay on my couch.

So, landlord, my message to you is this: Bravo. You’ve managed to finagle your way into getting oodles of students to pay you lots of money for an inconvenient situation and a thumb workout that includes a scroll through the good ol’ address book.


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