Students irritated with Hamden’s off-campus policy

By on January 27, 2016

New landlords who want to rent to students will now have to live with their tenants.

Hamden’s Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously ruled last month in favor of an ordinance that requires landlords who wish to get a student housing permit to be a permanent resident of that home. This measure is the latest way the town is dealing with the problems of absentee landlords and the conflicts between neighbors and students living in residential areas.

Hamden’s Acting Town Planner Daniel Kops said the Planning and Zoning Commission has spent months looking at ways to reduce the negative impact on the community caused by some students living off-campus.

“Most students do not create a problem and we know that,” he said. “But there are some that do and it’s an issue we have been dealing with for a long time. We are trying to come up with solutions to make this better and this is one of them.”

Those students currently living off campus do not have to expect their landlords to show up at their front door with a suitcase any time soon because current landlords renting to students are not affected. However, new permits going forward must follow this new ordinance.

Kops said this is one way the committee plans to control the growth of student housing off-campus.

“We can’t simply ban student housing,” Kops said. “So this is a way of allowing it while also controlling the growth because not too many property owners will want to live in the same house with students, but this allows that possibility.”

Senior Matt Laudano started to live off campus his junior year. For the duration of junior year, Laudano and his friends lived on School Street. This year, Laudano lives in an apartment in Aspen Glen.

Laudano doesn’t agree with the ordinance and he said it hinders the independence students seek when they choose to move off campus.

“I think it’s ridiculous because many landlords have multiple houses and can’t be in more than one place at the same time,” Laudano said. “As far as living in a house with your peers, the whole point is to experience independence and responsibilities you will in the real world – to pay bills, cook, clean and be self-sufficient. If you have a landlord with you in the house, is it really the same? I think it’s like having a sort of parent in there with you.”

Junior Kallie Meade lives on campus this year and likely will next year. But if she were to move off campus, she said she would not be okay with living with a landlord.

“It’s kind of a safety issue,” Meade said. “I would not want to live with a male landlord, like that’s terrifying. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with that.”

She said she does not understand what the commission was thinking when they passed this ordinance.

“I think they’re just literally trying to get all the kids out of Hamden,” she said. “I mean why else would they pass it?”

Some Hamden residents are frustrated with students who live off campus for being too rowdy and throwing loud parties at night. A few residents said their property values have gone down, which they attribute to the number of students living in their neighborhoods, according to the minutes from the Dec. 8 Planning and Zoning meeting.

One resident, Jill Ratano of Whitney Avenue, described the noise and “chaos” student housing has brought to her neighborhood. She said students have vomited and urinated on her property and that she struggles to sleep on weekend nights because of parties.

But Meade said this ordinance is not the way to fix the problem.

“You have to develop a relationship with your neighbors. I know my guy friends have a house and they have their neighbor’s phone numbers, if they’re getting too rowdy they call and they’re like ‘you need to turn it down’ and they respect it. I mean, I’m not saying that all Quinnipiac people are going to be super respectful of their neighbors, but I feel like the majority of us would be.”

Kops said there has been an ongoing effort to identify where student housing would be encouraged. The committee is in the initial stages of creating a university zone which would facilitate development of student housing in Hamden.

“The problems occur in residential areas,” Kops said. “Where students may be living next to an elderly couple or a young couple with a baby they don’t want crying up all night because of a loud party next door. The lifestyles [of students and Hamden residents] are very different.”

Junior Tyler Cabral, who lives on campus this year and plans to live off campus next year, said he suspects the Hamden community has exaggerated how destructive the majority of students are.  

“Especially if you’re [living next to] a family,” Cabral said. “I don’t think anybody would be that rude to literally be like, ‘I’m going to stay up and be rowdy all night with a newborn baby in the house next to me or kids that have to go to school in the morning.’”

Margaret Kramer of Chatterton Woods rents to students and opposed the new rule at the meeting, noting that the proposal is directed at Quinnipiac students, not Yale students who live in Hamden. Another landlord, Colleen Bartlett-Belbusti, said, according to the minutes, that she maintains a good relationship with her students and neighbors, noting that in her many years renting to students she only had a problem once.

Some landlords have now filed lawsuits against the town to fight the ordinance, according to WSFB.

UPDATE: This article was updated to include quotes and information from Hamden’s Acting Town Planner Daniel Kops. This update makes it different from the print issue that came out on Jan. 27, 2016.

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