Temple University launched their Best Nest Program last month, providing students and parents looking for off-campus housing with resources aimed at evaluating the safety of local landlords’ properties.
The Best Nest program offers tools, like an inspection checklist for touring residences, education on leases and a website that lists Best Nest properties, which follow certain safety guidelines, to students interested in off-campus housing. Students can also use the Best Nest website, found on the university’s off-campus housing site, to leave reviews on previous landlords and residences.
“We want landlords to be accountable for certain things, especially around crime and safety prevention,” said Jonathan Reiter, Temple’s associate vice president of finance. “So our hope is that students take advantage and really just look to live in the properties that meet these criteria.”
The program, inspired by and modeled after University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Niner Choice Program which helps students and parents make off-campus housing decisions, aims to educate students and parents on the features they should search for when touring properties, including smoke alarms, sprinklers and locks on windows and doors.
To be eligible for the Best Nest program, a property must be located within the Temple Police Department’s patrol zone, which extends from Susquehanna Avenue to Jefferson Street and 18th Street to 9th Street, and meet the program’s safety requirements, like the landlord having a license and no recent violations.
After a residence joins the program, it can receive a Cherry or Diamond Badge, a certification which indicates that the landlord has a valid license and that the property has outdoor cameras with retrievable footage and lighting that can illuminate at least two feet of surroundings.
Landlords who want the Cherry Badge can also apply for up to $2,500 of Temple’s Security Lighting and Video Camera Grant.
To qualify for the Diamond Badge, the residence must meet all Cherry Badge requirements, have no current code violations, less than three noise and trash violations within the past year and a 32-gallon trash can with recycling bins and storage for those bins.
The Cherry Badge indicates that the residence has met all crime prevention requirements, while the Diamond Badge status informs students and parents that the property met all crime prevention, residential safety and neighborly requirements.
Landlords must submit documentation of their landlord license and documents to verify their security features. To remain at the Best Nest status, landlords must recertify their license and safety features on an annual basis, Reiter wrote in an email to the Temple News.
Best Nest approved properties can be found on the Off-Campus Housing listing website by using the Best Nest filter.
As of Nov. 28, 10 properties have been listed as Diamond status, including The Edge, Kardon Atlantic, University Village, The View at Montgomery, Vantage and The Nest at 1342 North Broad. Temple Nest Apartments, an off-campus rental group, has been listed as Cherry status, Reiter wrote in an email to The Temple News.
Matthew Peduto, a freshman psychology major, thinks that freshmen will benefit the most from the program.
“They’re new at looking for houses,” Peduto said. “Like when I started looking, I had no idea what I was doing. And it’s stressful for people who are upperclassmen, like seniors or juniors, who understand the way it works and how to rent the house, they’d probably still use it, but it’d be less of a factor for them to use.”
Giovanna Cicalese, a junior English major, feels that the program encourages students to make informed housing decisions.
“Yeah, I think some people might want to, might be more cautious about it and might take into account the security of places more,” Cicalese said. “I think it might benefit some people.”
Temple hopes that the majority of landlords in the area will be signed up for the program by the next academic year, Reiter said.
“We really just wanted to provide additional resources to students and also have a way to hold landlords accountable, the landlords that rent out to Temple students in the surrounding neighborhood,” Reiter said.
Giovanna Cicalese has freelanced for The Temple News. She played no role in the reporting or editing of this story.
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