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Guest Column: Borough Rental Rule Discriminates against Penn State Students

on September 28, 2010 6:05 PM

Editor's note: The State College borough administration has published a report suggesting that the number of unrelated tenants allowed in rental houses be reduced from three to two. Doris Myers, a local poet, artist and property owner, disagrees vehemently. She penned this guest column for


by Doris Myers, for

No problem was ever solved by creating another one.

That is precisely what an ordinance restricting rental-unit occupancy to two unrelated people would do in State College borough.

The present law on the books restricts occupancy to three unrelated people.

It is a law of DISCRIMINATION -- discrimination against students.

Students are the only group unprotected from this discrimination in our free country.

Obviously, because the status of "student" is a temporary one.

Being a "short-term" group, students have not bothered to organize against this.

Occupancy, to be FAIR, should be based upon square footage, for safety reasons -- not against a certain "CLASS" of people.

Not all students are BAD tenants. Not all are disruptive to a neighborhood, bad housekeepers, or destructive, dirty, party-time drinkers, disrespectful, careless. There are non-students who fit this description, too.

Unacceptable behavior often is the result of parenting, "Do as I say and not as I do," bad examples, poor role models, trying to fit into a group that thrives on misbehavior. The causes MUST be addressed in order to change the results.

It is not caused by how many or how few occupy a rental unit. Becoming an addict to anything means going too far out of control.

Bringing one back to CONTROL takes education, understanding and help.

Finally, after much talk and clamber, we are on the right track.

There is a thoughtful group of neighbors who have taken the initiative by welcoming students with a personal visit.

The university, too, has taken a good approach and presented its course of action at the Board of Trustees meeting this month.

It is called "The Penn State Alcohol Initiatives 2010."

These thoughtful steps are traveling in the right direction.

Restricting residential space according to the number of tenants  -- rather then by space -- will cause a big loss of housing available to already-enrolled and future students. Then the university suffers; businesses suffer; innocent students suffer. That is NOT the solution. The solution lies in the capable hands of The Pennsylvania State University as well as outgoing, fair-minded, helpful neighbors and all other public agencies.

Do I know what I speak of? I think so, after 45 years in the business of real estate, and 20 or more of them handling rentals to students and others alike. Have I ever had BAD tenants? You 'betcha! Do I like that? A thousand times NO. Do I panic? Heck NO! Just make sure your lease is a tough one. Penalize highly for inflicted damages in your contract. Take control in a wise and thoughtful manner.

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