Ewing Township passed four new ordinances that are making it more difficult for students at the College to find housing off campus and causing landlords to discuss how their property may become unfit for rental.
The new ordinances create a variety of new safety, size and parking regulations for rental housing and increase the frequency of official inspections required by the township.
The two biggest issues for students are the parking and size regulations. No house may be rented out to more licensed drivers than there are spaces for cars, even if one car is shared among several people. Additionally, if there is adequate space for more than four cars, the driveway must be out of view of the street and any adjacent properties.
The new room sizes call for 100 square feet of room for each occupant’s bedroom, an additional 75 square feet for each additional person using the room and ceilings at least 7.5 feet high. Due to the architecture of many of Ewing’s houses, the houses are too small to house tenants. As a result, landlords will be forced to expand and students will not be able to share the rent among as many friends.
Despite the problems caused by the new regulations, the Ewing township government does not believe that students are being targeted. “We are not an anti-college township” Jim McManimon, head of the Ewing zoning board, said.
According to McManimon, the new ordinances are general changes based on Ewing citizens’ complaints of overcrowding and poor maintenance on some rental houses. “We hope both local and absentee landlords and students learn to respect their neighbors,” McManimon said.
However, many landlords and students do not agree that the new regulations are fair.
“Anybody who is renting a house may find themselves in trouble,” Lynn Golan, a landlord in Ewing, said.
“They’re basically trying to weed out the college kids,” Tara Dec, graduate educational technology major, said.
The College has remained neutral on the subject. “The College wants to be supportive of what Ewing wants to do,” Pat Coleman-Boatwright, director of College and Community Relations, said.
Still, Coleman-Boatwright said she is supportive of students’ concern and hopes that the township, College and landlords can work together to reach an agreement.
Prior to the new ordinances, the regulations on bedroom sizes were 70 square feet for the first occupant and an additional 50 square feet for each extra tenant. There was no previous ceiling height limit.
The new regulations are intended to lower the amount of overcrowding about which citizens have been complaining.
The problem that many students face with this solution is that they need to share houses with multiple people in order to afford the rent. “It ends up costing a lot more money for college students to purchase housing,” a Ewing citizen said under anonymity.
He also believes that the new regulations are about improving the township’s overcrowded school system.
He said the new regulations are to discourage families and students from moving into town, to prevent the overcrowding from continuing, and he doesn’t think the new regulations are a good way of helping fix the system.
The resident is not the only person concerned about the new regulations. A group of over 40 Ewing landlords recently met to discuss the problems.
Their goal is to inform others of the problem and to think of possible solutions. They plan to continue holding meetings to talk about the ordinances.
One major concern for students who want to live off campus is that as available off-campus housing decreases, the prices landlords charge will go up, making it more difficult for them to rent housing in Ewing.
The decrease in available housing and raise in prices could lower property value and force people to sell, hurting both the landlords and students of the College at the same time.
Coleman-Boatwright said the College does not believe the construction problems on campus will compound the rental problems.
Even though the apartments will not be completed for Fall semester, she said the College does not anticipate further problems with students receiving on-campus housing.
“We will be back to the same as it was in the past,” Coleman-Boatwright said.