Games Will Force Some Students Out of Homes

Students may already feel the daily impact of the Olympics with limited parking, the mass residence halls relocation and the prospect of a month-long Spring Break.

But few may realize some students must scramble to find new housing during the Olympics.

Many landlords throughout town are hiking up rental rates or evicting tenants to make room for Olympic guests.

April White, a junior in marketing at the U, is one such tenant. She signed a 1 year lease for a studio apartment in August with the stipulation she moves out for a 3-week stint in February. In exchange, she will receive free rent for the remainder of February and all of March and April.

“I really needed a place right away, so I signed the lease,” she said.

She would have signed the lease with the temporary eviction regardless of the free rent.

“I was in a pretty desperate situation,” White said. “All of the other places I looked at were pretty gross, and I liked it here.”

White will move in with her neighbor in February, and move back in to her apartment at the end of the month.

Mike Dahlgren, White’s landlord, plans to rent out White’s apartment during the Olympics.

“I haven’t rented out the apartment yet,” he said. “So, I still don’t know what will happen. I may still lose money on this.”

Still, many other landlords in Salt Lake City are evicting their student tenants.

White realizes others were not as lucky as herself.

“It’s kind of a pain to have to move all of my stuff,” she said. “But, at least I get free rent, that’s a lot more than a lot of people in town are getting.”

Some students may find temporary residence in homeless shelters built downtown during the Games that will hold hundreds of displaced Utahns.

Connie Walters, an employee at Campus Design and Construction, feels she could have been one of them.

She believes she was evicted from her condominium in West Valley because of the Olympics.

When her lease ended in July, her landlord wanted to re negotiate her rent.

“After being a good tenant there for two years, my landlord wanted to up rent $100 a month and go on a month-to-month lease,” she said.

She refused the new lease and moved to a new apartment in downtown Salt Lake City.

Walters believes the proximity to the E Center was the reason her landlord changed the lease.

Although the unit was empty when she left, she believes her former landlord will rent it out to an Olympic-related party.

“It’s just too coincidental that I was that close to an Olympic venue,” she said.

Many students on campus don’t worry too much about being evicted from their apartments.

“My landlord has a lot of integrity, it’s not going to happen,” said Susan Silva, a junior studying English.

Other students share the confident sentiment.

“I don’t think I’ll be kicked out of my apartment because it’s part of a house, and it has nothing to do with other apartments,” said Adel Alhosani, a freshman studying mechanical engineering.

Linda Hilton, volunteer and resource coordinator at Crossroads Urban Center, fears many other Utahns will be in the same situation come February. Utah has a law that states a landlord can give an eviction 15 days before rent is due for no reason.

She fears U students may become victims of “Olympic evictions.”

“University students often fall into a lower-income bracket, and that bracket usually gets hit pretty hard,” Hilton said. “Everything is really quiet right now, which worries me a lot.”

Due to Utah laws, tenants evicted from apartments usually have little legal recourse, said Judy Mayorga, a staff attorney at Utah Legal Services.

“Landlords can’t evict a tenant in retaliation for asserting a legal right,” she said. “A legal right includes asking for major repairs to be fixed.”

A landlord cannot evict tenants if he or she has told the tenants they can stay.

Mayorga fears evictions will become prevalent this month.

“It’s going to get pretty awful in January,” she said. “It’s a very hard month to be moving.”

Utah Legal Services provides free legal advice, many low income people come in for legal representation.

“Students can call us for free advice, pick up a handbook and even qualify for legal services,” she said.

Students can contact Utah Legal Services at 328-8891.

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