As college students, we pay premium rates to live in squalor and there’s nothing we can do about it.
When searching for housing options, students can chose from a handful of rental dynasties run by landlords who sit like kings in elusive offices feasting off the millions they make from extorting college students.
These large realty companies offer a stock of cramped apartments with peeling paint, crumbling concrete and plumbing that was modern around the time John F. Kennedy was president.
Last spring when I was looking for what would be my second off-campus apartment, I made the questionable decision to invite my mom along with me. I’m pretty sure she had nightmares for weeks about what she saw. However, to me it was expected.
One of my selected realty company’s handful of workers led us up several flights of narrow stairs into a one-bedroom apartment with no dishwasher, no central air conditioning and a baby-blue tiled bathroom. It was as good as it was going to get.
Flash forward to August and I moved in. After spending a day hardcore cleaning, there was still dirt sticking to the bottom of my feet as I toured my new dwelling. The parking space I was promised was too small to fit my car, a two-door compact. The coin-operated washer and dryer in the disgusting basement cost more than $3 to do a load of laundry and haven’t worked since I moved in. They key I was given for my mailbox was ineffective. About a month later, I went for a 40 minute run, taking with me the key to my building and the key to my unit. While I was gone, my landlord changed the key to the lock on the outside building door, effectively locking me out of my own home without giving any notice.
All of the problems with my new home I have chronicled to my landlord in well-written, respectful emails, phone calls and visits to their office to speak to someone face-to-face, all to no avail, and all this time still paying my over-priced rent on time. I received various responses all saying these problems were “the tenant’s responsibility.”
My complaints are not alone. The Lantern reported earlier in the semester on a group of students who found a man living in their basement. While a bizarre example, stories of housing troubles and careless landlords are common among students.
How did this happen? Why, just because we’re college students is our dignity and respect stripped from us by these landlords and realty companies? There’s no clear answer or apparent solution.
While I could threaten legal action or stop paying my rent in some bratty, bold move to inspire my landlord to pay attention to me, I shouldn’t have to and as a full-time student with two jobs, I don’t have the time or energy to engage in this war with my landlord. I should be awarded the decency I deserve as a customer and as a human being.