Just the other day my 19-year-old, J, announced that to be closer to his college, he would like to move into the city that his college is in, and asked me for help screening the rooms/apartments he was looking for. Obviously, the announcement was bittersweet (I love hanging out with him when he’s home) but I’m so excited for him to be moving out on his own and starting the next chapter of his life.
Shock can’t even describe the feeling that hit me when I started looking for appropriate accommodations for him. Roughly 75% of the housing available in his price range, in the area that he wanted to live in, stated clearly ‘females only’ or ‘exchange students only.’ Initially, I gave these advertisers the benefit of the doubt, thinking that perhaps to avoid issues, they wanted to give the girls a ‘safe’ place to live in. But then I called a few of them, and asked them why the females only rule, and why exchange students only. I was told that females are less likely to party, make noise, or skip out on rent payments, and that the same applied for exchange students.
I’m going to have to open my big mouth now and add my thoughts to these theories. I’d love to see a study that shows that girls don’t party, make noise, or skip out on rent. Having rented out properties before, I can tell you, nobody can complicate relationships like women, and having watched my neighbors house exchange students, I can tell you that sometimes they can be extremely entitled, expect everyone else to do the work for them, and expect to be waited on hand and foot. My neighbor, who had housed three exchange students three years in a row finally threw in the towel and gave the organization that sent the students to her a rousing piece of her mind. They were disrespectful, didn’t clean up after themselves, skipped classes, broke laws, broke curfew, and expected her to be their maid. At well over 60 years of age, she had had enough, and spent more money taking care of them by a solid 1/3 than she received from the organization as compensation for caring for them.
I would love to see studies on male and female college or university students and their living habits in rental properties. Having been to my fair share of parties, I’ve seen more cat fights between girls than fist fights between men, more temper tantrums involving throwing things and putting holes in walls or damaging floors from girls than from male students, and a lot more drama from the gals. Not being current on the landlord-tenant act right now, I am not even sure if it’s legal for property owners to discriminate between male, female, and exchange students. I spoke to a lot of the property owners about my son and his habits, and was given a flat-out ‘no’, because he doesn’t fit the ‘desirable’ category of female or exchange student. In my questioning I asked whether male exchange students were acceptable, and I was told ‘yes.’ A male Canadian student? No way.
Of all the obstacles that our sons face today, it’s incredible that landlords are adding to the problem by discriminating against our sons. With all the adversity they have to face to even get into College or University, finding a place to live should not be dependent on their gender. I’m not going to say that there aren’t males out there who party hard, but there are also females who do the same. Our boys work hard to get into schools, and that alone should be an indicator that they at least deserve a chance. Damage deposits are there in case anyone causes damage at these rentals, and careful screening can tell a landlord a lot about their potential new tenants. There is no reason to restrict what gender or race groups tenants must belong to.
Laying out ground rules, insisting on quiet in the home, and making a ‘no party’ rule can go a long way towards ensuring that things are kept on track, whether the tenants are male or female, citizens or exchange students. If you are looking for an apartment or room for your son for college or university, it’s usually pretty easy to find an appropriate adobe for your little bird. Look for places that have like-minded, studious tenants already occupying rooms in the residence. Having professionals living in the home also contribute to the serious atmosphere of the house, contributing to a peaceful space for your son to study, and it also provides excellent role modeling. Look for a home where either the owner occupies part of it, or is close by. Kids are less likely to ‘party’ hard if the property owner is nearby. The bottom line is that if your son is with like-minded, studious individuals in their home, they are more likely to stay focused, on track, and keep their new home tidy. Insist on rent receipts so that they can be claimed on their income taxes, and avoid homes where there is a lot of upkeep such as yard work, pool cleaning, hedge trimming, etc.
The old saying ‘one bad apple spoils the whole damn bunch’ is true when it comes to fruit, but it ends there. Mixing girls with boys in housing is not a recipe for disaster. Yes, it may have its challenges, but so does putting a group of testosterone-inflamed boys into the same environment. Yet our kids still somehow manage to graduate from colleges and universities and go on to excellent careers and become contributing members of our society. Give them the benefit of the doubt, and allow them to spread their wings and become who they were meant to become.
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