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Mace & Crown | April 30, 2017

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New 'Rent Ready' Program for Students

New ‘Rent Ready’ Program for Students

<h5>Erin Sudek
Staff Writer</h5>

The Rent Ready Norfolk Program is a new resource for ODU students and other community members that educates and aids renters and landowners about renting homes and becoming part of a neighborhood community.

This program was launched in Nov. 2015 by the Dept. of Neighborhood Development, and is aimed to insure quality housing, increase viable residential renters and to partner with property managers and landlords to create vibrant communities in Norfolk.

Rent Ready Norfolk is especially important to ODU because of the amount of off-campus housing in the area, which include Lambert’s Point, Highland Park, Edgewater Park Place and Larchmont. There are over 13,000 residential properties and 57% of them are rentals, according to the Department of Neighborhood Development in Norfolk.

Many students are new to renting a home and know little about the process and responsibilities that come with a lease. If a student has a problem with a current lease, it could affect the ability to rent again in the future.

There are four main components to this program: the Quality Assessments of homes, the Rental Academy, the Emergency Notification Database, and the Good Neighbor Campaign.

Quality Assessments of homes will be offered as an online source for potential renters to use when looking for a home and for landlords/property managers to use in order to market their property and make sure it is up to code plus some.

An important note for property owners is that when seeking Rent Ready certification, the city does not wish to condemn homes in bad conditions but rather partner with owners to improve the livability of the space. There are funds through the Rental Resource Bank for rehabbing properties if need be, as well as offering free marketing.

The Rental Academy is a series of courses for new renters and landowners alike, which covers topics like how to attract renters, reading a lease, the roles of landlords and renters, how to take action when problems arise, and other essential information. The sessions are about an hour long and occur each month.

“One day you will rent or own a home, or potentially be a property manager, and this is teaching you to be a part of the community. Things do happen, and you need to know what your rights and responsibilities are as a renter or owner,” Lauren Lowery said, who is the management analyst of the Department of Neighborhood Development of the City of Norfolk.

The Emergency Notification Database is a system that will allow for better communication between renters, landlords/property managers, police or anyone involved if there are any problems at or around the property.

“Often when an emergency occurs, a renter doesn’t know how to get in contact with their landlord. This mechanism along with helping renters understand and read their lease will help improve communication when an issue arises,” Lowery said.

The Good Neighbor Campaign is working to create welcoming and friendly neighborhoods by partnering with civic leagues to bridge gaps between renters and homeowners, and rid the idea that renters do not add anything to a community.

ODU student’s looking to utilize Rent Ready Norfolk can get involved and get educated through the Rental Academy and make sure to look for homes that are “rent ready.”

Houses that will be considered “rent ready” are those which have had a quality assessment, a landlord that has gone through the Rental Academy and are also signed up for the Emergency Notification Database. This way,  students and parents can be more secure in their lease.