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Off-campus students evicted for landlord debt, not partying
The four students evicted from their 21 Austen Road residency by the Town of Hamden are frustrated after a Nov. 27 New Haven Register article deemed them hosts to “raucous parties.”
“The article not only made us look bad, but made the whole student body look like we are out of control,” said Anthony Santi, a junior and former resident of the home. “The article was very one-sided and did not even reprimand our landlord who was the cause of our eviction.”
When the men signed the lease and moved into their Austen Road home in June, they were “blindsided” by information about their landlord Roland Langer. Langer did not have a valid student housing permit and had been accumulating more than $50,000 worth of fines since 2008, said Ross McMahon, a junior and former resident of the home.
The residents were given a 72-hour eviction notice from the Town of Hamden and vacated the house by Nov. 11.
Holly Masi, a zoning enforcement officer for the Town of Hamden, said the residents owe $150 every day starting on Sept. 29, the day they received their notice of violation to the day they moved out.
“The landlord is in violation of not having a proper student permit, but proceeded to still rent to students,” Masi said. “The way zoning goes, if you are using a property that does not have a permit, you are in violation. However, they do have the choice to appeal. All we are trying to get is compliance.”
Despite being forced to leave midway through the semester and finding a new residency, the students said they saw this as a sign of relief.
“They got what they wanted, but it got to a point where I wanted to leave too,” McMahon said.
Residents of Austen Road complained of “drunken parties” with garbage being left to gather in neighboring lawns with unbearable levels of noise, according to the Register. But, the students argue they never were able to tell their side of the story.
“The author [of the article] not only took the time to hear [George Mudry’s] story, but also took the time to write our address on several occasions,” said Anthony Colombini, one of the four residents. “She did not, however, have time to speak with my roommates and I about the situation.”
George Mudry, a neighbor of the former residents, said that he feels Quinnipiac’s inaction with students caused this situation.
“There is no animosity to the former residents, but QU who has dumped them into our neighborhoods,” Mudry said. “The college students are acting like college students in residential neighborhoods, which is not a good mix.”
The residents endured months of constant police visits at the hand of Mudry, who inisisted on getting them off the street after a Sept. 23 party, McMahon said. The police were called to 21 Austen Road after receiving noise complaints from neighboring houses. Each of the men received a $104 public disturbance ticket, which they all intend to plead not guilty, one of the former residents of the home said.
After the first incident, McMahon said they were constantly monitored by the police at Mudry’s request.
“Ever since the party, I felt like we were being harassed,” McMahon said. “I felt like the police were being called on us arbitrarily. One Friday night, I was getting ready for bed and brushing my teeth when four cops came into the house after being called for a noise complaint by Mudry. There were no more than 10 people in the house and it was a Friday night. I heard one officer speak into the radio, ‘It wasn’t loud when we got here.’”
Mudry is a leader in the fight to keep Hamden streets quiet, and is also a supporter of the Facebook page “People of Hamden,” which has 136 “likes” and is dedicated to confining Quinnipiac students to university-owned properties.
A post on the page from Nov. 19 said, “Why doesn’t QU want to solve this problem? It comes down to having a zero tolerance for bad behavior off campus–it’s not such a novel idea–follow the example of other institutions.”
Santi said he feels that it is their right to live in an off-campus property.
“It is unrealistic that you are going to have juniors and seniors wanting to live on campus with restriction from both residential life and security,” Santi said. “The only solution I can see is to have a section of Hamden dedicated to students looking to rent houses off campus. The students put so much into the local economy in renting houses and in so many other ways and we need to be respected, too.”
Lynn Bushnell, vice president for public affairs, said there is a comprehensive judicial procedure for students living on or off campus who violate university policies.
“University security does not have jurisdiction over privately-owned houses,” Bushnell said. If neighbors call security to complain about students living in a university-owned house, security will call the police, she said.
After numerous complaints to both the Hamden Police Department and the university from Mudry, the residents of 21 Austen Road met with Don Distefano, director of investigations & administrative services.
“He separated my roommates and I and each of us was told that the person before had verified George’s claims,” Colombini said. “When each of us refuted, we were scolded. It quickly became obvious that the school did not have the students’ best interest in mind. The message was clear.”
After meeting with Distefano, the students were sent to residential life, Colombini said, but no action was taken.
Distefano is not able to comment on issues between students, who live off campus in non-university owned properties, and their landlords.
In an email to the residents of 21 Austen Road from their landlord on Oct. 30, Mudry accused the men of numerous violations including having an excess of visitors and referring to their residency as a “frat house.”
One of the accusations Mudry made was that the men were listening in on police or fire department radio to detect when the police were coming to their residency.
“I saw one of the four students get into an SUV in the driveway,” Mudry said in the email. “He stayed there for a while then put the emergency flashers on. … In retrospect I remember seeing a fire department sticker on the back of one of these vehicles that was parked in front of my house one day. I don’t know if he had a police or fire radio in the vehicle or they just figured the police were going to come but the emergency flashers were a signal for everyone to leave. If the police had arrived 15 minutes earlier there probably would have been an arrest but instead there’s a bunch of Quinnipiac students thinking they got away with another one.”
McMahon is appalled at the allegations.
“That’s what we get for one of us having volunteered at a fire department,” he said.