Since I'm no longer writing columns (for the foreseeable future) for the Carbondale Times (no acrimony on either side, the editor was just concerned that readers might view this blog as connected to the Times), that leaves me with a couple of columns that I'd like to see the light of day, so here's part of the first on the amount of rental housing in C'dale:
An interesting by-product of the city’s ongoing review of its comprehensive plan is a report put together by Jane Adams, committee member and professor of anthropology at SIUC, on residential property ownership in Carbondale. Since a major focus of the plan revision is housing in Carbondale, she thought an overview of the quantity of rental property in town, as provided by the Jackson County Tax Assessor, would be useful. Dr. Adams put quite a bit of work into the analysis and I found a number of points interesting.
A figure I’ve heard bandied around for the past couple of years is that 70% of properties in Carbondale are renter occupied. There are about 4200 properties with unique addresses in Carbondale (OK, 4164 according to her count if you want to get specific). Of those, the owners of roughly 40% have a mailing address different than the parcel address, indicating the property is likely a rental. While not as bad as 70%, that still means that better than one out of every three properties in Carbondale is not owned by the person that lives there or runs a business out of it. Unfortunately, people who rent don’t have the vested interest in maintaining the property that an owner does. Sure, the renter puts a security deposit down and is generally responsible for wear and tear on the property, but, since most residential leases are on a year to year basis, if the renter doesn’t keep up the property (not a high priority for most college students) and the landlord doesn’t maintain it regularly, the renter moves on at the end of the contract, leaving behind a security deposit (often just a month’s rent) and a more run-down property. The older the property is, the less likely the landlord will willingly invest money to fix the damages, as the repairs serve only to maintain the property, not improve it enough to justify an increase in rent