Oxford Rentals Co. is among the five highest rated companies in USG’s 2018-2019 housing guide. Credit: Amal Saeed | Photo Editor

While looking for off-campus housing, the number of real estate companies might seem vast, but according to a survey from Ohio State’s Undergraduate Student Government, there are five landlords tenants said rise above the rest.

According to USG’s 2018-2019 Renter’s Guide, George Kanellopoulos with OSU Properties, Harrison Apartments, Oxford Rentals Co., Sunrise Properties and Edwards Student Housing Management are the highest-rated rental companies for students living off campus. 

The Center for the Study of Student Life at Ohio State conducted the survey of 550 students in September 2018. It asked questions about monthly rent, included utilities, maintenance response times, landlord cooperation and more.

OSU Properties and Harrison Apartments were rated the highest in overall landlord performance, tying at approximately a 4.1 out of 5 rating, with 5 being the best. Oxford Rentals Co. finished at slightly more than 4, Edwards Student Housing Management at 4 exactly and Sunrise Properties at about 3.8, according to the survey. 

George Kanellopoulos, owner and manager of OSU Properties, said he has 65 properties with 170 units and 750 tenants, but his philosophy on management has not changed since he started his business almost 30 years ago. 

“The main things that we’re doing were, as I said, to really think not business-wise, but ethically and take care of our tenants,” Kanellopoulos said.

Ray Giesse, owner and manager of Sunrise Properties, said he manages 40 units and has been in the real estate business for 30 years. He said the recognition as a top-rated real estate agent is “really gratifying.”

“We’re a small company. We’re not perfect, but we’ve always strived to be attentive to our tenants’ needs. And I think that’s key to any business,” Giesse said.

Oxford Rentals was not available for comment, and Harrison Apartments could not be reached. Edwards Student Housing Management did not respond to emails by the time of publication.

Edwards Student Housing Management manages properties including the Highline at Nine and the Wellington, according to its website. 

According to an email sent to its tenants, Harrison Apartments will be temporarily closed for the 2020-21 leasing term to renovate the building.

The average monthly rent per person for the 22 companies surveyed is about $550. The rents at Sunrise Properties and Oxford Rentals Co. are below the average, while Edwards Student Housing Management, Harrison Apartments and OSU Properties are about $50-200 more expensive.

According to the report, fewer than two utilities were covered in monthly rent. Oxford Rentals Co. and Sunrise Properties provided fewer than two. Edwards Student Housing Management included more than two utilities. Tenants reported they had more than five utilities at Harrison Apartments and OSU Properties.

Kanellopoulos said utilities are included in the rent for his units, and he does not have a problem covering it as long as tenants are responsible.

“You can spend whatever you can spend as long as you do not waste,” Kanellopoulos said. “Waste means we don’t want to come or drive by or see your house in the middle of winter, you have the gas on, I mean the heat on — which uses in most cases gas — and you have your windows open, wide open or you have your door open.”

Among the 22 companies surveyed, there was an average of five maintenance concerns in the past year. Tenants of Sunrise Properties, OSU Properties, Oxford Rentals Co., Edwards Student Housing Management and Harrison Apartments reported four or fewer maintenance concerns each, according to the survey.

Kanellopoulos said his philosophy on maintenance is based on two standards: not postponing maintenance services and his tenants’ happiness. 

“There is no deferred maintenance. The tenants are happy; the parents are happy,” he said.

The survey asked tenants to rate on a scale of 1 (“strongly disagree”) to 5 (“strongly agree”) whether the landlord provided adequate safety devices, including deadbolts on exterior doors and functioning locks on all windows. Sunrise scored a 3.5, the lowest of the five properties. Harrison Apartments scored the highest with a rating above 4.5.

Kanellopoulos said safety is of “paramount concern.” His properties have smoke detectors in every bedroom and hallway, carbon monoxide detectors in every hallway and a fire extinguisher on each floor, he said.

According to the Renter’s Guide, Edwards Student Housing Management had more than a 4.5 rating on a scale of 1 to 5 regarding cleanliness upon move-in, with OSU Properties close behind at about 4.5. Harrison Apartments was rated just over 4, Oxford Rentals at about 3.7 and Sunrise at about 3.4, the survey states. 

Kanellopoulos said that overall, his philosophy as a landlord is drawn from the way he lives his life.

“The principles that I apply in my business, I find out throughout the years that the same principles that you apply in your life and vice versa and the same principles will make you successful,” Kanellopoulos said.