Need to know which off-campus landlords are licensed? There's a program for that. Looking to see if they have installed cameras on their property? There's a program for that. What about additional lighting? There's a program for that, too.
This week, Temple University will launch the Best Nest Program, a collection of resources that can be used to help students and their families make informed off-campus housing decisions.
"We want students to live in housing that is safe for them and also minimally disruptive to the neighborhood," said Farrah Al-Mansoor, senior director of finance and administration at Temple University. "This is an effort to really help ensure that the landlords provide them with the resources that they need to be safe and to be responsible."
Similar programs have been implemented at other urban institutions across the country. Most notably, UNC Charlotte has had considerable success with its Niner Choice Program, which launched in 2014 and was used as one of the models for the Best Nest Program.
When the program is launched, Temple students will be able to use it to access a property visit inspection checklist, read and leave tenant reviews, and view rental listings that identify Best Nest properties. Also in development are educational materials for would-be tenants on best practices for leasing.
To be included as a Best Nest property, a residence must be located within Temple's patrol zone and meet certain safety, security and good neighbor criteria. Landlords who self-certify that they meet these criteria are then included in the rental listing section of the Best Nest website and receive either a cherry or a diamond badge depending on which criteria they meet.
The cherry badge set of standards are aimed at crime prevention. To receive a cherry badge, properties must meet the following criteria.
- Valid and current landlord license
- Valid and current certificate of insurance
- Adequate outdoor lighting
- Outdoor cameras with retrievable video footage
"We want to use this as an opportunity to identify some of the landlords who have not been doing the right things," said Jonathan Reiter, associate vice president for finance. "If you are a landlord who does not have a valid and current landlord license and is unwilling to invest in things like lighting and cameras, then, quite honestly, we do not want our students to live there."
Landlords in the patrol zone who would like to receive the cherry badge are also able to apply to Temple's Security Lighting and Video Camera Grant Program, which provides eligible landlords with up to $2,500 to be used for installing either lighting and/or cameras to improve security. To apply for a grant, landlords should contact email@example.com, provide proof of ownership of a neighboring residence and outline how the funds would be used.
The diamond badge set of standards is focused on being a good neighbor. Criteria for the diamond badge are the same as the cherry badge but also include
- no current "unsafe" license and inspection code violations;
- minimal noise violations in the past year (a maximum of two per year);
- minimal trash violations in the past year (a maximum of two per year); and
- landlord must provide enough trash cans, recycling bins and storage space for these receptacles so that occupants' trash and recycling can be stored on the premises between trash pickup days and not left on the street or sidewalk.
"If landlords want to go above and beyond, they can reach for the diamond badge criteria, which is the highest badge that we provide," Reiter said.
Students who want to learn more about the Best Nest Program can do so by visiting this website. It is important to check back regularly as new properties are expected to be added to the website regularly, ensuring that students in search of a high-quality off-campus residence have ample time to find one before the start of the 2022-2023 academic year.
Landlords who are interested in taking part in this voluntary program can view a checklist of what's required to submit and learn how to submit the documentation here.
Any questions regarding the program can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.