University’s rental properties offer affordable housing options near campus

Individuals interested in these properties can complete an application at snuhouses.com. (Screenshot by Brad Crofford)

By Brad Crofford, Editor-in-Chief

When it comes to places to live near campus, there are more options than one may initially think. SNU currently owns and rent outs 46 off-campus properties. The properties vary significantly, from small apartments to a four bedroom house.

Robyn Riley, residential property manager, in an interview with The Echo said, “These are properties that have been donated to the university over time or that the university has purchased.”

“The thing that drives why we purchase property is because we have a master plan for expansion and building,” said Dr. Scott Strawn, Vice President for Financial Affairs.

Strawn explained that properties are purchased for the future and rented out in the short term.  Renters include students, faculty, pastors, and missionaries. Although it is not an eligibility requirement, Riley said the majority of requests they receive are from people in the SNU community.

“Renting something from me is like renting from any landlord,” Riley said.

SNU’s properties do offer some benefits relative to other housing options. Riley listed cost, a location near campus, and flexibility on lease terms as some of the key benefits. Strawn listed the location of many of the properties within the Bethany Public School district and their pricing under market rent levels as contributors to their desirability.

Location and cost were both factors in James Brown’s, class of 2011, choice to start renting an apartment from SNU in October 2011.

“It was affordable and close to campus, where many of my friends still lived. It was also almost perfectly halfway between the two jobs I had at the time,” Brown said.

There are a few issues surrounding the rental properties. For example, Josue and Ginger Murillo, during an interview about married student life at SNU, suggested that married students should be given priority for renting these properties.

Chapman Apartments formerly served as married student housing and were rented out as properties currently are. Since they were converted to regular campus housing, there has been some effort to accommodate married students in the off-campus properties.

“I try to do whatever I can to provide housing to married students, provided it’s available,” Riley said. “Most of the students I hear from are married students.”

“Married undergraduate students have often said they would like to have more access to them,” Strawn said. “It’s a goal to have ten properties for current or recent married students.”

Some current renters and people who have attempted to rent have been frustrated by the process, The lack of a wait list is one of the challenges.

“I have never had a waiting list,” Riley said. “It’s a rumor that we have one.”

She explained that students frequently call asking to be placed on the wait list, but that she has never used one because the properties are so different. As an example, she said when people call about the availability of a small apartment, it would not make sense to contact them about a four-bedroom house.

The high desirability of the properties and the speed at which they are filled is the reason why there are no listings of the properties, according to Riley.

“We used to provide the listings on the website, but it was impossible because they went so fast,” Riley said. “If people fill out an application, I am happy to show them properties.”

The process of renting these properties is not part of the usual spring housing sign-ups for students because it is not currently affiliated with student housing.  In the past, the residential properties manager has reported to the CFO. Starting in January 2013, the residential properties will fall under housing and report to Michael Houston, Associate Dean of Students, according to Strawn.

Individuals interested in these properties can complete an application at snuhouses.com and/or contact Riley through the contact form there

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