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Survey shows lack of trust among some Northside residents

The survey asked student renters about their landlords.

Northside, a historically-black Chapel Hill community, has been the focus of recent controversy.

In April, a group of Northside landlords petitioned the Chapel Hill town council to disband the Northside Conservation District.

Founded in 2004, the district has been used to issue regulations to preserve the neighborhood’s character.

Diane Li, a UNC sophomore and intern at the Jackson Center, said she helped conduct the survey by walking through the neighborhood and surveying 46 different residents from different households.

“What we want to do is get a better feel of the neighborhood and see that landlords really take care of students,” Li said. “See if they’re providing safe and comfortable housing for the tenants.”

As much as 20 percent of students living in the Northside neighborhood did not think their landlord fully respected their privacy, according to the survey, which was conducted over a few weeks at the end of February and beginning of March.

Todd Neal, a Northside investor, property manager and real estate broker, said it is important to never show up at an occupied residence unannounced so as to preserve the privacy of residents.

“(Some landlords) think it’s their domain, and they don’t think of it as being someone’s house,” Neal said.

Neal said better educating new landlords and establishing generally accepted practices could fix the problem of landlords showing up unannounced.

Additionally, 24 percent of those surveyed said they did not obey the town’s ordinance that makes it illegal for more than four unrelated residents to live together.

Li said respondents shared that they felt the need to fit more people into their houses to make it more affordable.

Della Pollock, the executive director of the Jackson Center, said that statistic did not surprise her, and even seemed a bit low.

“I think all tenants need to assume appropriate legal responsibility for their living situation, but the enforcement also comes down to owners of the property who are holding the lease,” Pollock said.

Anastasia Bowden, a UNC senior living in Northside, said she would never feel comfortable breaking that ordinance, but that she knows many people do.

“I don’t think that rule should be applied to college towns,” Bowden said.

According to the survey, 28 percent of respondents said they were unsatisfied with their landlord’s response to repair requests when it came to speed and quality of repairs.

Neal said that as a landlord, he tries to always be timely with repairs.

“Tenants treat your property the way you treat it. If you don’t have respect for it, neither will the tenants,” he said.

Bowden said she has not been unsatisfied with any of her requests and was not part of the 28 percent.

“I think there are some amazing relationships,” Pollock said. “When you look at 20 percent you also have to look at 80 percent.”

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“This is good info to have to be better participants in the community.”