Opinion: The rent is still too high

Opinion: The rent is still too high

Are you sick and tired of crazy-expensive rent? There’s a reason for that, besides the high demand for housing and cost of inputs such as utilities, housing staff, and building materials.

Many students, like myself, do not commute to school and instead find accommodation in the Cobb County area. We are stuck choosing between student apartments and dorms. Even for a four-bedroom unit, monthly rent can sometimes be over $700 per room.

There are some cheaper alternatives, but county regulations will not permit this. For example, four students can rent a house in a neighborhood and pay considerably less than they would in a student apartment. My friends and I looked into this and found that the four of us could each pay $400 per month for a house instead of over $600 per month for a school-affiliated apartment.

According to Section 134-1 of the Cobb County ordinances, however, a single family dwelling unit like a house “consists of one or more rooms used for… two or fewer unrelated adults.” This means that no more than two people who aren’t related can live in a house together, so three or more students cannot be roommates legally. Nearly all homes fall under this ordinance, which takes the cheaper option off the market.

It is simple economics. We have to choose between dorms, apartments and houses. The first two choices are very expensive, which leaves students with the option of renting a home — a substantially cheaper alternative, especially when split between three or more people. Because the county government has outlawed more than two unrelated people living in a house, students are basically forced to purchase the more expensive options.

Since this ordinance exists, Kennesaw State University dorms and student apartments can continue to raise their rates, knowing that students cannot legally rent cheaper housing.

You may be thinking of all the friends you know who are already living in a house with several people or other students. While some people ignore the ordinance and rent houses anyway, they run the risk of being evicted.

Three years ago, 11Alive News reported that five KSU students were evicted from their “$200 a month rent” home because of this ordinance. If heavily enforced, many students would be without homes or forced to move to a more expensive apartment or dorm.

If the government decided to outlaw Wal-Mart and other competitors, Target’s prices would skyrocket.

The same thing occurred with the case of the Epi-Pen when the company Mylan increased the price of a two-pack from $100 in 2009 to more than $600 in 2016. The Food and Drug Administration refused to approve other competitors to put their product on the market, giving Mylan a monopoly — which resulted in the extreme price hike.

Competition lowers prices, whether it concerns grocery stores, medicines or housing. Students and non-students alike should be allowed to engage in voluntary transactions when it comes to housing.

The number of unrelated persons renting a house should be decided between the landlord and the tenant — not the government.

Cobb County needs to understand that a freer market would provide better and cheaper options for students. This ordinance is unfair to the thousands of students who are currently being forced to pay such high prices for housing while also paying for school.

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"The number of unrelated persons renting a house should be decided between the landlord and the tenant — not the government." Photo credit: Paulette Juieng

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