Duluth student rental problem not going away | FOX21Online.com

Duluth student rental problem not going away

By Nick LaFave & photojournalist Jeff Ernewein, FOX 21 News

DULUTH -¬†Roughly 20,000 college students are back in Duluth for the school year.¬† The recurring issue of housing for those students received attention Thursday during¬†UMD Chancellor Kathryn Martin’s retirement announcement.

When asked about the issue of student rental properties in Duluth, Martin said there’s not a college community that doesn’t deal with the problem.

“And I’m not suggesting we don’t have one. ¬†But,¬†I think it’s an overstated issue.”

But code violations, loud parties and parking are headaches for many Duluth homeowners in college neighborhoods.

Martin says¬†UMD has expanded its own residential housing.¬† In fact, 3,000 of the school’s more than 11,000 students live on campus.

She suggests the problem lies with Duluth city government.

“I would challenge the city to do a better job of inspecting all rental properties that are student rental properties.¬† They’re dangerous.¬† We shouldn’t have students in them,” she said.

“Ultimately, it’s the responsibility of the landlord to provide safe housing,” says Mayor Don Ness.¬† He¬†points at landlords, specifically the ones that don’t live in town.

Ness says one issue the city faces regarding inspections is manpower.

“I wish we had more resources to do more inspections more regularly.”

Ness says a long–term goal is a new policy under which successful landlords are rewarded with less-frequent inspections, and the properties of problematic landlords are inspected more frequently. That would better utilize resources and send a message to repeat offenders.

“To say, ‘you need to increase the quality of the rental unit you have or we’re going to take away the privilege of renting in our community away from you,'” Ness said.

Ness said there is no timetable on when that plan would go before the City Council.

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