With a high theft rate and myriad housing options, students can be hard pressed to find a safe housing choice in Carbondale outside of dorm life.
According to neighborhoodscout.com, a website dedicated to comparing U.S. cities’ crime rates and safety, Carbondale is safer than 4 percent of cities in the U.S., and residents have a 1 in 18 chance falling victim to property crimes with 1,417 reported annually. Despite this, thousands of students each year will decide on a housing option that fits their needs while staying within their budget.
Kevin Baity, city manager, said all properties must be inspected by the city once in no more than 36 months to make sure landlords keep up with city cleanliness and safety regulations.
If the inspector finds the property to needs repairs, Baity said it is the landlord’s responsibility to make sure they are made.
Generally, he said, issues that present immediate health or well-being problems for the renters such as a broken window or a leaky roof should be fixed immediately, but smaller problems can take longer to alleviate.
Baity said the city regularly receives complaints about landlords who haven’t made the proper repairs within a reasonable time frame.
Brock Strader, a student renter with Paper Rentals, said his back door lock was broken when he lived in a Home Rentals house two years ago, and it took the company 10 months to fix the issue despite requesting a repair.
The repairs were too little too late, Strader said.
“The back door didn’t lock, and they never fixed it,” Strader said. “That’s how we got robbed. Somebody came in through the (unlocked) back door.”
Strader said one reason he has stayed with Paper Rentals for two years is because of how quickly repairs are made.
David Kilburn, a Home Rentals renter, said there were more than 20 problems with his house when he and his roommates moved in during the summer. He said none of them have been fixed yet.
Some issues include broken lights, peeling paint and various small mechanical problems, he said. Despite filing a repair report, Kilburn said the company has still failed to fix any of the issues.
“They’ve done nothing,” Kilburn said. “Any upkeep that’s been done has been done by us. The only thing I’ve seen them do is mow our yard.”
Patrick Selzer, a renter with D and G rentals, said one problem he had with rental agencies in the past is how they treated him.
He said when he rented from Home Rentals he believed the company didn’t treat him genuinely. Selzer said he thought the business was more concerned with money than service quality.
“They have so many properties, you feel insignificant,” Selzer said. “A lot of the times you’re just filling out a piece of paper, or you’re just leaving a voicemail and hoping a job will get done.”
Selzer said when he looks back on the situation, though, he realizes Home Rentals probably has a hard time keeping up with maintenance because of how many properties it owns.
D. Gorton, a property investor in the Arbor District, said he is usually able to fix a problem within a few days, when his tenants call him with one depending on the situation. He said repairs are important to not only the residen’ts safety but also the service quality he hopes to provide.
Gorton said none of his properties have ever been broken into because of a series of anti-burglary measures he puts on all of his properties.
Fences prevent burglars from easy access to back doors on his properties, Gorton said, and motion sensor lights are installed as a separate safety precaution.
Gorton said although it hasn’t been proven to deter burglars, he plants flowers and bushes on his properties to keep burglars at bay.
“It sounds strange, but plantings and flowers indicate a certain kind of involvement in the house that I believe will scare off potential burglars,” he said.
He said he also allows pets because he believes a barking dog will just be another deterrent to possible criminals.
Renters should consider all of these rental agency qualities before they sign a lease, Gorton said.
Home Rentals, Alpha Rentals and Paper Rentals all declined comment.