Landlord should take responsibility

Heather Mangan

Heather Mangan

Fourteen students living in the same apartment building may be evicted for improper use of the structure.

As reported on page one of the Collegian, the residents are members of the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity and occupy all seven apartments of the building. The residents are being accused of using the building as a fraternity house in an area where it is not sanctioned to do so.

Ray Schmidt, president of the fraternity, claims the apartment building is not a fraternity house, just a group of students in the same organization living together.

The address of this house is under the listing of “Sigma Phi Epsilon” in the Brookings directory making it obvious that the residents are associating the apartment building with their fraternity. The structure was converted into seven apartments several years ago and is currently owned by Brookings resident Rocky Gilbert.

The landlord must have had some knowledge that all 14 residents belonged to the same fraternity. And as a landlord, he should know Brookings zoning laws and what the law says about fraternity houses and where they can be located. Before allowing his residents to sign leases, he should have been very clear to them about how the structure could and could not be used.

The residents are not going to know the laws and how the structure is going to be used. It’s the landlord’s responsibility to inform them.

The landlord has received a letter from the city expressing concern for how the structure is being used and now there is speculation that the residents will have to move out Feb. 1. Although that is unlikely because the residents need at least one month’s notice before eviction, there is still a chance they could be evicted before the end of the semester.

If the city deems that a mistake was made, the residents shouldn’t have to suffer. The problem should fall onto the landlord’s shoulders, not the residents’.

It’s unfair to kick out 14 students in the middle of semester in a city where living accommodations are limited. They should be allowed to live in the building until the end of the semester and then their leases would not be renewed.

Instead, if the city determines the apartment is acting as a fraternity house, the landlord should pay the penalty by way of a fine and/or restrictions upon future tenants.

The landlord needs to take responsibility for this matter, no matter how the city rules. He owns the structure and should be responsible for how it is used.