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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Why finding an affordable apartment feels like chasing a unicorn

Saichand Chowdary
Students boarding the shuttle bus at the Campus Center. Photo by Saichand Chowdary / Mass Media Staff.

It’s that time again: lease renewal season. While some relish the chance for a fresh start, it certainly isn’t the same experience for everyone. Rent prices have skyrocketed, with some apartments jumping a staggering 30 to 50 percent compared to last year. This begs the question: Why is rent climbing ever higher, and why is it becoming more difficult to find affordable housing? 

One explanation points to landlords seeking wealthier tenants. Considering this situation from the perspective of the tenant who is being displaced by raises to rent, this reasoning could be a possibility. The lack of rent control and stabilization can allow tenants to be exploited by landlords for profit.  

However, Demetrios Salpoglou, the CEO of Boston Pads, addressed this argument on Boston.com and explained that it might not entirely be the case. Salpoglou argues that a lack of available housing is the bigger culprit. Simply put, we’re not building enough homes to keep pace with a growing population, driving up demand and consequently, rent.  

Since Boston is a desirable place to live, based on some of the economic benefits attached to working in the city, the price increase is more pronounced here. According to Salpoglou, renting in Boston will remain tough for tenants. With UMass Boston having a student population of mostly commuters, this challenge affects most students.  

The rent for the apartment I stay at will be going up by over 200 dollars per person. It is not only my landlord that has increased the rent by this much, but after discussing with a few other students who live in the area, it turns out that their landlords are increasing the rent as well. This situation is likely to force many students to move to cheaper apartments further away from campus; this decision will not be easy, as students may be forced to have longer commutes just to afford tuition.  

With this outlook, it appears that this will translate into UMass Boston’s statistics for commuters and possibly the academic performance of students. A classmate of mine once mentioned he commutes from Worchester to Boston every weekday by train because of how expensive it is to live in Boston. This means it takes him well over an hour to commute to school, and while these long commutes might not affect some students academically, it could affect many.  

A possible solution to this problem, which is likely to be the most effective, is the implementation of a rent control system. The proposed rent control system seeks to protect renters from exploitation and ensures their rights are respected. If properly implemented, even with the unstable housing market condition, renters would be clearly informed before they move in so there are no surprises. 

This solution is not the only solution—there are other possibilities, such as building more houses. However, such large-scale solutions would take a long time to implement, and before some level of rent control starts to have an impact, it may take even longer. This is why enforcing the proposed rent control policy will help get us to that point of stabilization in rent prices quicker.  

These are not particularly exciting times. Coupled with the inflation plaguing the economy, for many people, securing accommodations may prove a challenge. The goal is to begin searching for apartments now. Reaching out to people, going to the apartments, and asking about how the landlord relates with tenants are all important actions to start with. Hopefully, all UMass Boston students can find apartments that suit their needs.