Students receive Hanover evictions
At least one group of students living off campus has already received an eviction notice as a result of stricter enforcement of Hanover zoning rules prohibiting more than three unrelated people from living together.
Although the "unrelated persons" regulation has been part of the Hanover zoning ordinance for more than 25 years, it has not always been enforced with regularity.
But changes may be imminent.
"There has been a general effort in town to give more credence to the zoning ordinance," Hanover Zoning Administrator Judith Brotman said. "We are not able to enforce every violation ... but over the last years we have stepped up our attempts."
Brotman said she has not kept track of the number of citations issued recently for violations of the unrelated residents ordinance, but indicated that there had already been several and that more were coming in the near future.
The portion of the zoning ordinance regarding unrelated residents states that "a non-owner-occupied dwelling unit may be rented as a residence for an unrelated family limited to three persons or a related family which will reside in the dwelling."
Director of Dartmouth Real Estate Paul Olsen said the unrelated persons zoning rule was most likely put into place to "protect the character of some areas that are meant to be single family residential."
Without the rule, multi-family rentals -- or student housing -- could take over the Hanover housing market, he said, but added that there are some properties for which it makes sense to allow more than three unrelated students to live together.
"I don't think it's either black or white," Olsen said. "I think the town needs to have more housing available for those who can't afford to have their own single family home."
Many Dartmouth students living off campus fit into this category.
Since landlords hold legal responsibility for any properties in violation of the zoning ordinance, official notification is first sent to them. Any legal action, possibly including fines and even time in court, according to Brotman, would fall on the property owner.
Hanover's statute has made an impact on the way the College administers its off-campus properties. After the College acquired a number of off-campus rental properties this past summer, the Real Estate Office has only leased in compliance with the city code, Olsen said.
Although one of the College-owned properties available to undergraduates -- 4 Dorrance St. -- has four bedrooms, rules listed on the Real Estate Office's web site indicate that no property will be rented to more than three people.
"To the best of our knowledge, we've not leased any properties to more students than are allowed to be there by zoning," Olsen said.
Officials learn of properties in violation of the various zoning ordinances -- including the unrelated persons rule -- by a variety of means, including the reports of neighbors, the observations of city employees performing other duties at the property and a variety of other means, Brotman said.
Residents of one house who have been told to reduce the number of tenants so as to be in compliance with rule declined to discuss their situation with The Dartmouth on the record. They also asked that neither the location of their house nor their names be published, expressing concern about drawing more official attention.