Student housing loophole targeted

City Council plans to close a “loophole” in its restrictions on student housing — one that allows for the purchase of a home in a student’s name and subsequent rentals to other students.

Officials spoke of those plans after an Ivyside resident complained about a neighboring house that became a student rental after the parents of someone who attends Penn State Altoona bought it and put it in their son’s name, according to the resident.

The loophole is contained in an “exception” to the definition of a student home in the city’s zoning ordinance, “when the dwelling is occupied by a family that is the recorded owner of record,” according to Lee Slusser, the city’s community development director.

The exception means that when the owner lives in a house, it’s not a student home, and so it isn’t subject to the student home restrictions — even when the owner rents to students, Slusser said.

The exception applies not just to students in whose name a house is titled, but any owner, provided the owner lives in the house.

It was thought that such an exception was legally necessary, Slusser said.

The city’s new solicitor, Dan Stants, says it’s not, Slusser said.

Accordingly, Stants has proposed an additional provision that would except a home from the definition of a student home — and the accompanying restrictions — only when “all renters are related to or members of this family by blood, marriage or legal adoption,” Slusser said.

About a dozen families have exploited the loophole, Slusser estimated.

“As long as it’s in the works, that’s what I needed to know,” said Jim McAleer, the Ivyside resident who complained.

There are about 15 student homes in his neighborhood, McAleer indicated.

Student homes are a cause for complaints because those who live in them allegedly tend to hold loud parties and generate parking problems and trash.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.


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