Animals in the walls, exploding pipes, water drainage for more than 12 hours and a pig are just some of the things tenants and off-campus property managers might have shared experiences with.
Off-campus housing maintenance is typically the responsibility of the property owner — not the renter — but sometimes with maintenance requests, comes not easily resolved situations.
Greg Martin, who works in management at Eventide Inc., said he has seen the damage students can have on their properties, especially those who don’t file service requests soon enough.
One notable situation was a student hoarding so many belongings that they needed to rent out a second property from Eventide, Martin said. He also said there was a student who asked to have a service animal but would not reveal the breed. The animal was later found to be a 200-pound pig.
The pig was fed out of a kiddie pool in the house. It would rub up against the walls, staining them black, and its hooves damaged the hardwood floors, Martin said.
Martin said students should make sure to point out their issues to their landlords as soon as possible.
“It’s a plus if we are getting a call because tenants are taking care of the property,” Martin said.
Russell Morrison, a third-year in chemical engineering, lived in a NorthSteppe Realty property on Frambes Avenue this past year and initially had an issue with a dripping noise behind the kitchen sink.
“The realty company that I rented from that year was very laissez-faire,” Morrison said. “They only dealt with major issues and checked once a year on the tenants.”
After putting in a request, the maintenance team showed up a week later to assess the dripping, creating a hole in the drywall to investigate the source of the issue. Morrison said maintenance couldn’t figure out what was causing the dripping and didn’t repair the hole.
Morrison said that a few days later, he and his roommates woke up to a pipe shooting water into their kitchen from the hole.
“It originally was just annoying because we did not know how to stop the noise behind our walls,” Morrison said. “But it became a concern once water was filling up in our kitchen.”
When they contacted the NorthSteppe maintenance team, they were told assistance would be there in roughly two hours, which Morrison said was concerning because he and his roommates were using a single bucket to catch only one-fourth of the water that was coming from the wall.
“We were left to deal with a relatively fast flowing amount of water filling our kitchen,” Morrison said. “All we wanted was breakfast.”
NorthSteppe declined to comment on its general maintenance policies and said the specific request could only be discussed with the tenants.
Molly Matiscik, a third-year in early childhood education, said she recently experienced a plumbing issue as a Hometeam Properties tenant.
One morning, Matiscik began running water in her tub and noticed a piece of the handle had broken off, preventing her from changing the temperature of the water or turning the water off.
With the nonstop rush of water coming from her bathtub faucet, Matiscik called the emergency maintenance line. Since the water wasn’t overflowing the tub, maintenance told Matiscik it wasn’t an emergency case and would be dealt with in the next business day, she said.
“It wasn’t life-threatening. It was just uncomfortable that they didn’t think it was that big of a deal,” Matiscik said.
After 12 hours of water running, Matiscik said a maintenance person came to her property and said, “Oh my God. How long has it been doing this?” and “Somebody should’ve been here earlier.”
“They don’t really have any urgency,” she said. “They have an emergency line, but, like, I don’t know what they consider emergencies.”
Hometeam did not provide comment to The Lantern.
Ariel Taylor, a first-year in the veterinary medicine graduate program, said she also had an issue of water not shutting off in her apartment bathroom.
When water wouldn’t stop running, Taylor called the emergency maintenance line at University Village, which said maintenance was three hours away.
“If you’re a doctor at a hospital and you’re on call, you’re not allowed to be more than 30 minutes away from where you work,” Taylor said.
Taylor said the maintenance person then connected her with the receptionist at her apartment complex, who had the pliers and wrench needed for the repair.
The receptionist came up to Taylor’s apartment, but didn’t shut the building’s water off before trying to fix the problem. As she was trying to unscrew the shower knob, a pipe burst and spewed water into the bathroom, flooding the room.
“It was like the Titanic,” Taylor said.
Taylor said she was hysterically crying, and the receptionist was screaming while the water overflowed into the rest of the studio apartment.
“I grabbed the things that were important to me and fled,” Taylor said. “I was horrified.”
University Village did not respond to requests for comment.
Aside from plumbing, students have also experienced issues with rowdy and unwanted guests.
Dana Ward, a third-year in operations management and Spanish, said that throughout the past two months, she has had unidentified animals living in her walls that made loud pounding and scratching noises.
“You can hear it in the walls. It was like burrowing into the walls,” Ward said.
When the issue first arose, Ward said she filed a maintenance request with her realtor Peak Property Group that was fulfilled by boarding up some holes on the outside of the house, without an exterminator or any assurance that the animals were gone.
Ward said the animals were then trapped in the walls and were constantly running around and scratching at the walls.
Since they first boarded up the holes, Ward said she and her roommates have seen squirrels get into their home from a new hole on the outside and have filed two more service requests. Both were canceled by maintenance.
“[The realtors] seem to not care that we care,” Ward said. “That’s the frustrating part.”
Ward said that when she and her roommates first moved in, the back door and windows did not lock, there was mold in the bathroom and their showers didn’t work.
Ward said that after complaining to Peak Property Group multiple times about their situation, they received some compensation for how unpleasant their house was.
“I don’t think it had been cleaned before we walked in,” Ward said.
There was also flooding from a bathroom into a first-floor bedroom that wasn’t resolved for more than 24 hours, Ward said. Peak Property did not clean or pay to get the carpets cleaned in that bedroom, she said.
“Don’t be afraid to put in a million service requests because they do have responsibility to make sure the house is livable,” Ward said.
Peak Property Group did not respond to requests for comment.
For issues that go long enough without a maintenance request, risk of being evicted or losing a security deposit can escalate quickly.
Molly Philipps, chief counsel of the civil team at Student Legal Services at Ohio State, said that under Ohio law, section 5321.07 states that landlords have 30 days to resolve maintenance issues expressed by tenants. If landlords fail to resolve an issue, tenants have the right to take other action, either through a rent escrow action — when students take rent money to clerk of courts and the clerk decides whether or not they will give it to landlord — or consultation through SLS to terminate their rental agreement.