Ohio State Sophomores in Dorms - Numbers and Analysis

The president of The Ohio State University Gorden Gee wants OSU sophomores to live in university-owned and managed dormitories by fall 2016. Gee says: “It’s about providing the best quality education to students by taking a bold step that no one else is making.” Some critics say Ohio State is trying to capture more of the student residential housing market. I will point out that OSU just sold the management of its parking facilities. As Gee has said, he wants to be in the business of education -- not parking, and likely not dormitories. This post will not try to speculate, but instead look at the facts surrounding this decision and try to conclude what impact this will have on private off-campus housing. As I read recently "If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine."

 The facts:
  • Number of Dormitories: 31 (South, North and West)
  • Current OSU undergraduate housing beds (Not including the current south campus expansion or planned north campus expansion): 9,936
  • Demolished beds: 675
  • Beds being added: 3,200 (North Campus) 3,000 (South Campus)
  • Beds after all construction: 6,359 (North Campus) 9,102 (South and West Campus) = 15,461 Total
  • Enrollment (Fall 2011) Columbus Campus: 56,867 (6904 Freshman + 9700 Sophomores = 16,604)
  • Enrollment (Fall 2001) Columbus Campus: 48,477
  • Annual Growth Rate of Columbus Campus Enrollment Past 10 Years: Approx 1.8%
  • Anticipated Columbus Campus Enrollment by 2016: 17,517 (Freshman and Sophomores) 59,993 (Total)


By 2016, there will be 17,517 freshman and sophomores at OSU. With only 15,461 beds available by this time (Assuming the almost 400 million dollar north campus expansion can be completed by then, which is unlikely based on our construction experience) then 2,056 freshman and sophomore students will not have a bed available on campus. This may actually be by design as I am sure OSU expects some students to simply not be able to comply with the new rule. Also by this time, there will be an additional 2,213 students at the Columbus campus. All this does not take into account the more-than-normal increase in enrollment OSU could accommodate with the potential unused housing stock off campus. The maximum number of un-rented beds off campus in 2016 is then as follows:

3,200 + 3,000 - 2,056 - 2,213 - 675 = 1,256 beds.

Gee - "There are some places that I would not allow people to live if I were absolutely in charge. The good landlords are going to thrive. Those who should be squeezed out should be squeezed out, and they will be," he said. "And we have a lot of quality landlords that do a wonderful job and we need to support them and we will."

Final thoughts: 1,256 beds is not that significant when you look at the total number of "beds" available in the "off-campus housing". As Gee alluded to, a majority, if not all of the landlords who provide quality housing will have no problem filling their rentals.  Some landlords on campus having been crying wolf -- especially those who own multi-million dollar Florida beach houses paid for by deferred maintenance and price gouging.

As a graduate of Ohio State, I will say that I wish I had lived in the dorms my sophomore year rather than living off campus. On the flip side of this regret, living off campus allowed me (probably like many other students) to have a conveniently parked car with which I made a fair bit of money at a part time job.

Worst case, the nicely located off-campus houses will be filled by non-OSU students looking for the campus experience previously unavailable to them (due to the previous demand). In summary, we do not anticipate a significant decrease (if any) in the demand for quality - well priced off-campus housing.

How To Renew A Lease (and get a free upgrade!)

Landlords HATE switching tenants. It's a ton of work for them, introduces a lot of uncertainty into their finances, and carries a lot of risk. They love it when you renew your lease - for them, there's essentially zero work involved, and they're assured another year of rent checks from someone they already know. You can use their preference to your advantage. I got an email from a friend asking if it was standard for a landlord to offer a free upgrade when you renew your lease. Here is my response:

"That doesn’t sound standard, per se, to me. However, landlords do need to replace things as they wear out due to normal wear and tear. Do you know how old the carpet is? Or when it was painted last? I think it would be totally reasonable to ask for the interior to be painted or the carpet to be replaced if those things weren’t done right when you moved in (ie, if the paint or carpet is more than 3 years old).

"Now that I think about it, there are a few items I would ask him to take care of while renewing your lease. You could even write these directly onto the lease. You are absolutely correct in having high expectations of him while signing on for another year. Landlords will always sink to the lowest possible level of maintenance and attention for their tenants that they can get away with. Most landlords, anyway. The way to rectify that is to have high expectations and just pretend it’s normal. Form letter:

Mr. X,

Thank you for the opportunity to renew the lease. It’s a great location and I enjoy living here here, and look forward to at least another year.

As I have been living here for nearly 3 years now, there are a few maintenance items that have cropped up. Sorry I didn’t get around to emailing you about these sooner, I’ve just been really busy.

  • Wall patch in master bedroom to be sanded and painted
  • Kitchen cabinets/drawers fixed
  • Master bedroom door doesn’t shut properly
  • Electric space heaters removed
  • Large gaps around living room windows filled/caulked

I have also noticed that the carpet is getting pretty worn out and is due to be replaced. Nothing serious, just normal wear and tear. I know this is typically done between tenants – I have no problem working around your schedule - just let me know what day to expect them and I’ll be sure to accommodate. If you take a look and feel the carpet does not require replacing, please arrange to have it professionally cleaned as would be typically done between tenants.

One other item – you had mentioned getting washer/dryer hookups installed at some point(this was before I even moved in). Has that been done?


As you can see, the tone of the letter is formal, and strong yet polite. Feel free to steal the template above to use when contacting your landlord.

Did you negotiate an upgrade when renewing your lease? Let me know in the comments below!

14 Things To Ask Your Potential New Landlord

Ready to find that perfect place, and not get ripped off in the process? It's easier than you think, with a little prep work. When you set up a time, inquire who will be showing the unit. It is preferable to have a walk-through with the actual owner of the property (not just a manager or his shady cousin). Be sure to allow yourself plenty of time, and don't rush.

Take pictures of every room while you are there – it will show you are serious and that you won’t be taking any crap when it comes to security deposit, because you have a record of the move-in condition. Don't be afraid to poke around and ask questions about anything that seems unusual.

The apartment should be perfectly clean and everything in it should work when you move in. If the landlord is too lazy or cheap to have the place cleaned when showing it to prospective tenants, that's not a good sign.

Get any “promises” to fix this or install that in writing. You can even mark right on the typed-up lease – that is totally fine. Hand-written sentences “Landlord agrees to have washer fixed by move in date. Landlord agrees to upgrade windows by X date” etc.

Things to ask the landlord about:

  • Who pays utilities?
  • What type of heat does it have?
  • Are there washer/dryer hookups?
  • How much do utilities run on average?
  • Who do I call for maintenance?
  • Have there ever been pets? (allergies)
  • How long have you owned the building/house?
  • Is there a dishwasher?
  • How new are the windows? (heating/cooling cost)
  • Do the unit have central AC?
  • Will the locks be changed when I move in?
  • Are the exterior walls insulated? (heating/cooling cost)
  • Are the interior walls insulated? (noise)
  • Will the carpet be professionally cleaned before I move in?

Items to take note of when viewing the unit:

  • All doors/windows open and close easily (not painted shut), and the locks work.
  • Safe egress from bedroom windows.
  • General condition of the paint/trim/drywall/fixtures etc.
  • Listen for neighbors – how is the soundproofing?
  • If multi-story or above-ground: No broken steps on the stairwell, handrails in good shape.
  • GFCI outlets anywhere near water (sink, tub) [GFCI outlets have those TEST/RESET buttons w a light]
  • Enough counter space?
  • Enough closet space?
  • Enough storage space?

In general, the idea is to get a feel for how well-maintained the place is. If it's not in good shape now, there's no reason to believe it ever will be. Beware of promises! Good luck and happy hunting!

Finding Rentals in Columbus

"Where do I look online to find a new apartment?"

A lot of people have been asking me lately where to look for apartments and rental properties for rent. So, I decided to compile a list for Columbus. Share and enjoy - leave your tips in the comments!

There are a few websites specific to Columbus, so if you want to "shop local", check here first:

  • Metro-Rentals.com - this site has a limited number of properties, but covers many areas. It breaks down the city by neighborhood, which is nice. Also worth a look is its sister site,
  • Suburban-Rentals.com - what it says on the tin. See above.
  • ColumbusRealEstate.com - which is run by the Columbus Dispatch. A decent amount of properties here, but sparse on details. Basically an online version of the paper classifieds.
  • Columbus Underground Urban Living - new site with rental listings, in addition to condo and home sales. [added 5/1/12]

The big hitters are nationwide, but do a good job with our city. Links go to the Columbus listings:

  • Craigslist.com - The default answer. It has the highest number of listings and covers every geographical area of the city.
  • Padmapper.com - Great. Basically a huge Google Maps, with the location of places for rent overlaid. It pulls data from CL and Apartments.com. Absolutely check this site - they have a cool blog too.
  • Zillow.com - Another good one. Their main area of focus is home sales, but they cover apartments and houses for rent as well. Map-based interface.
  • Trulia.com - Similar to Zillow; they have a nice interface and appear to have a few hundred listing for rentals in Columbus.
  • Apartments.com - They don't have as many listings as Trulia or Zillow. Worth a look, I mean they own the domain, right?
  • Rent.com - A big hitter. You must register to search.
  • ApartmentFinder.com - I like this one. Large pictures, good descriptions.
  • ColumbusOHForRent.com - This is actually a nation-wide company that sets up little websites for each city, and the Columbus one only shows 33 rentals in the entire city. Skip it.
  • ApartmentGuide.com - The most rentals I've seen on one site. Over 600 in Columbus, apparently.
  • Rentals.com - Sure are a lot of these, aren't there?
  • RentalHouses.com - Yawn.
  • ColumbusRent.com - Another one of those "clone for each city" websites.
  • Hellocolumbus.com - Another one of those "clone for each city" websites.
  • ForRent.com - Not a lot there.
  • Oodle.com - A lot there.
  • RentJungle.com - This is quite similar to Padmapper.com [added 3/8/11]
  • ForLeaseByOwner.com - What it says on the tin [added 3/8/11]
  • Hotpads.com - Similar to RentJungle and Padmapper [added 3/3/12]

Local property managers and rental companies:

I must give partial credit for this list to Metro-Rentals.com - they have a great list of Featured Owners which is well worth a look. The following is by no means exhaustive, but should provide a good start if you want to contact these companies directly or browse their websites.


Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments and I'll add it.