The prospect of allowing apartment complexes to rent individual bedrooms, and make them available only to students, is a possibility that a citizens advisory group may consider as it studies renting and parking issues in college areas around Charlotte.
The group will help draft recommendations to the Charlotte City Council in January.
The practice of leasing only a bedroom – not the whole apartment – is currently illegal because it is not covered in Charlotte’s zoning ordinance, but Charlotte Mecklenburg police are aware of at least 14 of the University City area’s 53 multi-family communities that rent by the room, said Lt. Dave Johnson, of the CMPD’s University City division.
The practice poses problems because crime is relatively higher in complexes that rent by bedroom than in complexes that lease by unit, and the practice attracts drug dealers and criminals on probation, he said.
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The advisory group held its second meeting last week and learned that the city could legally restrict renting by bedrooms to student tenants only. At the first meeting, earlier in November, many group members, after deciding that renting by bedroom should be allowed, had questioned the legality of refusing leases to non-students.
Johnson, who is a member of the group, said he thinks that allowing renting by room only for students would probably solve a lot of problems.
“I think it would have a big impact on our crime, maybe the biggest impact,” Johnson said. “If the building is being used to attract students, then stick to your guns and rent to students.”
Johnson and other CMPD officers in attendance said that perhaps there will be further discussion about banning non-students from complexes that rent by bedroom at the next meeting.
Sean Langley, UNCC’s assistant director for off-campus and volunteer outreach, said that UNCC and the CMPD are talking about making a list of safety standards and forming a public list of complexes that meet those standards. Langley said the approval would be enforced when police would regularly check that standards would be upheld.
The advisory group also discussed parking and transportation issues surrounding college areas in Charlotte.
The group did not agree on how to handle parking problems, but Rick Grochoske, an engineer with the Charlotte Department of Transportation, said the city has approved funding for the construction of a 10-foot multi-purpose path on University City Boulevard from Mallard Creek Road to the main UNCC entrance.
“It will be an alternative for students to walk or bike instead of drive to campus,” Grochoske said.
The next meeting will be 6 p.m. Dec. 13 in the government center and is set to address parking and zoning land use.