Giving a GPA to Student Housing
Sustainable Living Innovations, a Seattle-based modular student housing developer, is asking college students across the country to grade their university housing on its green attributes via an online survey. In the somewhat unscientific survey (possible answers include characterizing public spaces as Brady Bunch-esque rec rooms), students are asked to provide their school with a G.P.A.—a “Green Performance Aptitude” that grades their dorm space and greater university community on its green attributes. “Environmental education should begin at school with today's student housing as the prototype,” says Sustainable Living Innovations managing director Jeff Taylor. “From structural and social design, to energy efficiency, to renewable and sustainable components, students are the architects of tomorrow's eco-policies.” One lucky survey participant will take home a green iPod nano in the contest designed to raise awareness of modular student housing design and construction.  

Unfair Housing, Olympics-Style?
Residents at a seven-unit multifamily apartment building in Vancouver became suspicious when their month-to-month leases across the community were expired as of Jan 31, 2010. After receiving notices to end residency, one renter found the property offered as a $34,000 Olympic rental on two Internet sites. Landlord Mariana Gerenska tells the Canada.com news service that she originally placed the ads more than a year ago simply to test the market and that the complex is being vacated to make way for family members arriving from Bulgaria for the birth of her first child in early March. While residents, including Sue Brown, still feel like they “were lied to,” Canadian legal experts say there’s no case either way—Gerenska is free to terminate the month-to-month leases with proper notice at any time she wishes, for practically any reason.

The Truth is Out There
If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and swing by Rented Spaces, a blog that touches on the design, culture, and business of both living in and operating rental communities. Blogger Katie McCaskey, for instance, had a great take on a New York Times article dispelling the myths behind apartment amenities that sound good in theory, but in practice aren’t so great. McCaskey’s commentary takes the NYT to hilarious hyperbole, but illustrates how specific apartment renters can (and likely want) from the units they live in: “Living near the elevator is great when you’re moving in, and a boon when you’re moving out, but, well, here’s the suckage: the near-constant grind of wheels and the all-hours gathering of noisy people. Going up? Nah, don’t think so.” What Rented Spaces gives away in arguably stale tricks of the trade, it makes up for in fresh news, interesting perspectives, and a good laugh or two about the business we work in.

Safe and Sound 
Courtesy of the ILS space comes some great holiday tips for property managers to share with residents via bulletin boards or resident portals. From Rent.com, president Peggy Abkemeier shared seven steps for easing apartment life holiday stress. Our favorite is Abkemeier’s tipping tips: $30 to $100 for doormen and superintendents! Self-serving, sure, but erring on the generous side never hurt when it comes to first in the queue toilet repairs and light bulb replacements. Likewise, ApartmentGuide.com apartments and home divisions president Arlene Mayfield offers some sage advice concerning the winter time use of wood, gas, and electric fireplaces. Mayfield’s precautions are easy, straightforward, and could save resident possessions, and entire apartment building, and most importantly, lives.

Editor’s note: Send your offbeat multifamily news leads to cwood@hanleywood.com.