Living off campus: breaking the bank

The vacancy rate is disturbingly low in Burlington, and so are studentsÕ hopes for getting a decent apartment for a reasonable price.

With the supply so low and the demand so high due to the mass number of Burlington students living downtown each year, the market has taken on a mind of its own.

Rent tags have soared and the aesthetics and amenities of the apartments do not match them.

Landlords can get away with charging students a hefty price and not putting effort into upkeep because students need to live somewhere and all but only a few apartments are not rented out of necessity.

The Cynic is asserting that this is inherently wrong.

Landlords do not have the ethical right to warp the market because of an imbalance of supply and demand, and then further that wrongdoing by allowing many houses to look worse than a dilapidated Vermont barn.

This distortion of a generally acknowledged fair market is eerily similar to the Burlington gas market.

Why is gas here 20 cents more expensive than both the national average and the rest of Vermont? How can that possibly be ethical and why do consumers have to be forced into this unfair system?

Maybe the latter has no answer or maybe there is no way to escape the system that, technically, we helped to create.

In terms of apartments downtown, there are some things that we can do to at least hint at a fair market.

First, Burlington as a city can choose to adjust their tax laws to reflect the land itself rather than the condition of the property.

This would allow landlords to make improvements without being forced to pay a higher tax.

Second, UVM and other Burlington colleges can work to create more affordable private-public housing downtown, similar to the Redstone Lofts, in order to heighten the vacancy rate and offset the average rent.

And, if the landlords will not take the ethical responsibility themselves, students can act both in protest and in holding landlords accountable for the upkeep codes that they are required to meet.