Oxford residents lament as student rentals take over Mile Square
Published: Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 02:10
“We got surrounded.”
This is how Oxford resident Warren Mandrell described his family’s situation on Oberlin Court in 2006 as the neighboring homes, once family dwellings, became Miami University student rental properties. They were nearly the last to leave.
“It used to be, when we first moved there [in 1995], the entire little neighborhood was pretty much families,” Mandrell said of the small neighborhood off Main Street. “Wooster, Oberlin Court, Rose and unconnected Poplar were all regular people.”
According to Mandrell, when the first house on the edge of the neighborhood was sold and became a student rental, the rest fell like dominoes.
“The guy that owned it just up and sold it as a student rental, which was a disappointment,” Mandrell said, adding he believed the owner could have easily sold to a family. “Everyone in the neighborhood had said to everyone else, ‘if you want to move, let us know, because we know people who want to buy a house in the neighborhood, because it was close to campus, nice and quaint.”
The new, young neighbors made their presence quickly known.
“The people that lived next to them all of a sudden had people parking in their yard,” Mandrell said. “They had people throwing beer cans in their yard and had people driving 40 miles per hour down this little tiny street with their daughter trying to ride her bike.”
This was enough for some, Mandrell said, and families quickly began pulling out.
“You know, with parties next door, they get pissed off; they move,” Mandrell said. “The resident of the neighboring house had her windshield broken out twice. And she got mad and then she moved. It was a domino effect, and the next people would get mad and pull out.”
The problems quickly crept into the heart of the neighborhood, according to Mandrell, which once was a playground for at least nine kids.
“The people next to us kept getting mad because the people across on Main Street would have these really, extraordinarily loud music parties until four or five in the morning,” Mandrell said. “She kept calling the police, and they never really did anything. Finally they got pissed off and they left.”
Mandrell said as the years went by and the students got nearer, the vandalism got worse. Throughout the final three years, he said the family was actively looking for a new place to live.
“We had a fence around the backyard and they would kick in the fence,” Mandrell said. “It was like a weekly thing, repairing the fence. I don’t know why, but they would just kick the fence down, break off posts, rip off fencing, kick the gate in.”
Mandrell said he assumed almost all the incidents to be alcohol-related, including a particularly grizzly incident in which a drunk, confused student ripped the hubcap off their family car and used it to punch through the window of a neighboring student rental, once a professor’s home. That was enough, Mandrell said.
“Most of the time, it was fine; they were kind of oblivious,” Mandrell said of the students awareness of families next door. “But you don’t need very many people to break out windshields or kick the fence down to make the neighborhood not a very good place.”
One of the last residents on Oberlin Court has purchased a neighboring house, according to Mandrell, and will only rent to grad students or non-students. Assistant women’s basketball coach Colleen Day currently lives in that property.
“In fact, we have a cookout at the beginning of the year for all the students,” Day said. “We invite all the students; and I think that helps, because then they realize that they’re not the only ones who live here. They’re great; they’re always pretty respectful of us.”
While the Mandrells were one of the last families to leave their home, now named “RedFox,” there are some Oxford residents in the Mile Square who intend to stay put.
Roy Young moved back into his childhood home W. Withrow Street 20 years ago and said he enjoys having students as neighbors. At first glance, one might think his property is another student rental. Affixed to the white siding is a red sign reading, “Grandpa’s House.” But rather than an ironically-named student residence, the home is, in fact, grandpa’s house.
“My granddaughter made me put it up there,” Young said. “She said ‘everyone else’s got a name, you have to have one.’”
Young said that after 20 years, he is used to his neighbors having parties.
“The kids on the street are just like regular neighbors,” Young said. “The kids in the apartments behind—they get a little carried away every once in a while. Other than that, no, I’m not bothered.”
Young’s only complaint is against the landlords.
“They don’t take care of their properties,” he said.
Likewise, Mandrell said he finds it somewhat difficult to drive through his old neighborhood these days.
“We drive through pretty regularly and it’s sad because it’s not taken care of.”