The conflict between owner-occupants and renting students on White Street and others near Bates College (Sun Journal, June 28) is of keen interest to me because I rent our single-family house to students.

I am acutely aware of my tenants’ neighbors, many of whom I know personally and call friends. Each year I interview students interested in leasing our future home. This is a face-to-face meeting during which I assess the character and motivation of prospective tenants and impress on them the importance of respecting the community and the neighborhood values.

The cooperative living experience afforded the five seniors who each year sign a lease is, I believe, an adjunct to their college education and often a first step to learning responsible stewardship of their residence. Our lease agreement spells out housekeeping requirements (mow the lawn, rake the leaves, collect litter, shovel the drive and walk, etc.) as well as the moral obligation to avoid disturbing their neighbors.

Crafting such a document, in light of Maine’s tenant-friendly leasing statutes, has taken some work, but 10 years of excellent neighbor relations have demonstrated the benefits of such effort.

Each neighbor knows to call me if any difficulties arise, and my tenants are aware of that. It seems to me that if some of the landlords on White Street were to assume more responsibility for their properties instead of merely cashing rent checks, local government would not be asked to step in and “solve” another interpersonal problem with added restrictions and limitations.

David Chittim, Lewiston

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