Student governments seek out solutions for housing problems
Student governments seek out solutions for housing problems
  • Kim Hye-won
  • 승인 2015.03.13 16:28
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A member of Jibbosaem program is providing advice to a freshman. Photo provided by Jibbosaem.
Cho Kyoung-eun (Yonsei, 2) vividly recalls the sense of embarrassment and unfamiliarity  she felt when she first arrived in Seoul all the way from Busan to find a house to live in. She did not have any knowledge or information on how to agree on a lease or avoid scams. Most houses on the market were too expensive to afford and real estate agents were usually unfriendly and untrustworthy.
To help students with diverse housing problems and to fight for their residential rights, student governments from several universities in Sinchon have started to take action. Students are now responding to sort out housing problems that have constantly been the major challenge facing many university students.
Jibbosaem program is a prominent example started by Yonsei University’s 51st Student Association in 2014. Jibbosaem is a program through which the student government members provide consultation to students who need advice or assistance on housing related matters. Following the former student body, the 52nd government of 2015 also decided to continue the program.
“Through consulting, we provide education to students, from basic knowledge about signing tenancy agreements to practical information about prices and locations of houses that are out in the current market,” said Bae Cheol-yoon (Yonsei, 3), a chief of the Department of Housing & Living of the student body of Yonsei University. “Based on the database we have accumulated, we recommend students houses that fit them.”
However, it remained as a concern for the members that they cannot guarantee the quality or safety of the houses they recommend.
“Students often make a contract with house owners through a broker without recognizing the hidden risks,” Bae said. “For example, houses that students have already paid for may be put in an auction. In those cases, students cannot get the deposit money back.”
As a result, Yonsei students came up with the idea of “good real estate.” The term refers to real estates that abide by the ethical charter of real estate agents. Jibbosaem students made proposal forms that induce agents’ promise that they will be “good agents” and got the forms signed by many agents. In return, Jibbosaem members introduce “good real estates agency,” whom they have made contract with, to students looking for brokers.
“We are also trying to reach specific areas of students’ realistic concerns,” Bae said. “For example, we often accompany students to guide them when signing contracts or to check if the house is in decent condition.”
Students who used the service generally give positive feedback.
“Most of the governmental policies related to this issue are not reachable enough to students and real estates demand brokerage for their service,” said Woo Man-seung (Yonsei, 2). “Thus, students often have to do a lot of legwork to get the information. Jibbosaem was a big help in this process, accompanying me all the way to talk with house owners and make the final contract. I also got informed of many legal points to attend to.”
A similar business is also being run by the current student body of Sogang University, Mate. Mate offers a guideline for searching housings, matches students with “Mate real estates” and provides accompaniment service through its own program called the “Finding Good Home.”
“Modeling after Yonsei’s Jibbosaem program, we also match students with ‘Mate real estates’ who are bindingly using contract forms that are designed to protect tenants,” said Kim Hyoung-eun (Sogang, 3), the chief of Division of External Relations of Mate. “In this case, students get 20 percent discount off from the brokerage.”
These student governments have larger plans in mind to protect students’ residential rights.
“I hope other universities start similar business and students from different schools can bond together,” Lee said. “For example, Yonsei and Sogang might use the same real estate contract form.”
“Students’ residential rights closely related to their rights to learn,” Bae said. “Thus it must be protected just like any of other rights. I hope our efforts contribute to enlarging the influence of student voice.” 

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