POCATELLO — Landlords in the Gate City say the reason they ask foreign students from the Middle East for higher deposits and advance rent is because they have a tendency to cause serious damage and an ability to not pay their last month’s rent because they leave the country.
Landlord Jerry Hodge has 60 apartments in Pocatello, and he’s had some real issues with Idaho State University students from Saudi Arabia or Kuwait when it comes to trashing his rentals.
“In 45 years in the rental business, I’ve never been to court and have been able to work with renters, but they are a problem,” he said about the foreign students.
Hodge had photos to show how the Middle Eastern men he has rented to in the past have trashed kitchens and destroyed carpets.
“They’ll tell you they don’t smoke, but they do,” Hodge said.
Dave Packer, president of the Pocatello Landlords Association and former Bannock County Assessor, said damage and the inability to recover damages or unpaid rent is a real problem for landlords who rent to ISU students from the Middle East.
“They’re all going to tell the same story,” Packer said about Pocatello landlords.
Packer said there are some cultural issues at play. He said males from Saudi Arabia don’t do domestic chores and consequently don’t know how to clean up after themselves.
Packer also said student renters from the Middle East tend to set up hookahs in the middle of living areas in apartments so they can smoke, and the devices burn holes in the carpet.
The landlord said another issue is if you rent to one male Saudi student, dozens of others will show up at the apartment in expensive cars and take up all the available parking spaces, especially at four-plexes that are the main rental properties Packer owns.
“It crowds out everyone else,” Packer said.
Packer said local landlords charge higher deposits and ask for additional rent in advance to protect themselves.
Because the students from the Middle East come here with no letters of recommendation from previous landlords and no credit reports, Packer said landlords are taking a risk. And once the school year ends, the students are no longer in the U.S.
“Once they’re gone, they’re gone,” Packer said.
Packer said the Islamic Society of Southeast Idaho’s leadership has never approached his organization about making sure any damage to rentals would be covered by the Saudi government.
Saudi students attending ISU have their tuition and living expenses covered by the Saudi government.