Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Zoning Board

Need for College Student Rental Ordinance not Just a Mt. Pleasant Issue . . . this is a township issue!

Several neighborhood issues surfaced at the Mt. Pleasant’s Town Hall Meeting . . . some may be easier to resolve than others. It is recognized that there is currently no township ordinance for college student rentals in the township and unfortunately, I did not leave the meeting feeling that there was specific direction or a timeline for the creation of such an ordinance. It is my understanding that Radnor Township’s student housing ordinance is a good model that could be used for Tredyffrin. I have posted Radnor’s ordinance several times but here is it is again.

How do we get the Board of Supervisors to listen to the Mt. Pleasant residents in their request for such an ordinance? The need for an ordinance is not just a Mt. Pleasant issue; there are other areas of the township that have student housing issues. Now that real estate investors have discovered that Tredyffrin Township does not share neighboring municipalities regulations of college student rentals, it would seem that we are going to continue to see an influx of student housing in to the township.

Maybe it is OK that Tredyffrin homeowners have college students as their neighbors. Maybe our attitude should be if an investor wants to come in to the township, purchase properties and then turn the investment properties in to college housing, we say so what? After all, the college students are adding to the local economy. My guess is that it might be OK by many of the residents, until it was their neighborhood, their street. As long as the problem is in Mt. Pleasant, than why should the rest of us care? Frankly, I don’t think the problem is that college students are renting the properties . . . I met several of the students in Mt. Pleasant and they were friendly, polite, nice kids. The real problem is that without any rules and regulations (such as number of non-related occupants, noise, drinking, etc.) there is no real governance or enforcement if problems or issues arise between homeowners and college students. At the Mt. Pleasant Town Hall meeting, one of the investors stated he was willing to add verbage in his student lease that would cover some of the residents issues. Although the offer from the landlord is appreciated, there is no requirement for them to add the wording and the residents are left without an avenue for enforcement.

Mt. Pleasant does have distinct issues that may not be obvious in other areas of the township. Mt. Pleasant is a family community whose properties may not be as pricey as found in other parts of Tredyffrin. (I noticed yesterday that there are 2 houses currently for sale on Mt. Pleasant Road.) My guess is that real estate investors are able to purchase houses in Mt. Pleasant at a lower price than other areas such as Strafford, Devon, Great Valley. They purchase the houses, update the houses (some create multiple apartments within the single family homes) and then they are ready to rent.

I don’t know what the average rental price a family would pay to live in Mt. Pleasant but clearly the rental rates that the investors are able to command from the college students (and their parents) is far higher than would be typical of the neighborhood. Mt. Pleasant rentals end up on Craigslist with rates from $1800/mo upward to nearly $3000/mo. Certainly out of the reach of many prospective Mt. Pleasant families, . . . however this monthly rental rate is achievable if the landlord has multiple college students living together. Take 6 students living in one of these houses and the monthly rate may actually only be $300/mo for each of the students. I am not suggesting that we can (or should) regulate the rents that investors are able to receive from the students.

Bottom line: The redevelopment trend of township properties in to college rentals will probably continue . . . progress and change in neighborhoods should be accepted . . . but would you agree than a township ordinance to guide the movement would be helpful to all of us?

A couple of other issues that surfaced at the town hall meeting was a Mt. Pleasant Road vacant lot and also the Henry Road development project of 8 townhouses and a single family house. I visited Mt. Pleasant yesterday and took photos of these areas and will post them shortly.

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