OK. I’m willing to bet there are at least two or three landlords renting to college students that are not the devil’s minions. And I’m sure that young partying tenants can be a pain in the butt. Chances are, though, that if you’re a college student and you need off-campus housing, your landlord sucks, even if you’re a well-behaved student.
This is a timeless situation. Thirty years ago, I decided to stay at school one summer to take a couple extra classes. Well, actually, it was because neither I nor Big Daddy wanted to leave each other and go to our respective homes. We loved our college town and I was quite excited to find a cute little house near campus to share with three other girls. It had a big porch on a shady street next door to the landlord’s house. The landlord was a long-haired middle-aged Philosophy professor at the university who seemed laid back and didn’t bother us. That is, until it was time to give me back my security deposit. He had sneaked in the evening before and saw some dirty dishes in the living room. HELLO! I hadn’t moved out yet! But that was his excuse for not giving me my money back. Shy delicate flower that I am, I guess the jerk thought I was just going to say okay and walk away from my hard-earned money without a fight. After a screaming match on his porch and threats to report him to the school and wherever else I had to, he gave up the dough. And I thought Philosophy majors learned about things like, say, ethics?
Fast forward to the present day. College apartments are still cramped overpriced fire-traps just like they used to be. When your college student is a person that likes to hear the phrase “I told you so…” and therefore does nothing at all to secure decent university housing until two weeks before school is ready to start, you’re at the mercy of the worst devils around. We knew it was scary snapping up a lease on an apartment still under construction, but we were sort of desperate. The landlord, the manager, and the dumb-as-ass third guy (J calls him “their bitch”) were kind of shady but no more so than some other landlords I’d met. We were a little skeptical they’d have the place done within two weeks (like they promised) and of course our instincts were correct. J commuted the first week and kept stopping by to check on the progress. After we insisted that we could not push back the date yet another week, they told J that he could move in Labor Day weekend. So Friday, J stopped by to pick up his key to move in and check out the place, and there was no electricity. Oh, and the morons nonchalantly stated that there was some mix-up and it probably would be at least 10 more days because they needed some kind of meter that didn’t come in.
J takes this kind of news just like his mother would. He vented at the guys. He called Big Daddy, who was as irate as the rest of us. Big Daddy, who knows a thing or two about electricity, talked to the power company about the problem and was told that work orders usually do take about 10 days. And then, some wonderful woman from the power company called Big Daddy back to tell him that they got an emergency work order. Some huge miracle occurred and J had light that afternoon. We were all set to load up our truck and our still unsold van, and set up the apartment Saturday.
After a forty-five minutes drive, our two packed vehicles arrived to a pretty deserted college town. We pulled up to the door only to discover that…the building was LOCKED! And the jack-asses had forgotten to give J the building key, even though they knew he was moving in this weekend. The few people J knew that lived in the building were obviously gone for the long weekend, and we stood out in the alley shaking our heads in disbelief and of course ranting about how much we hate these guys. I wanted to cry. By some fluke, Big Daddy found a door on the other side of the building that had been left ajar, and we managed to get in. Then the fun started.
There was a distinctly unfinished feel about the place. Everything said cheap-o rush job. Big pale patches of yellow showed through the white paint on the walls. Gobs of sticky goo dotted the laminate floors and sinks. Dust and construction dirt was everywhere. There is no mirror in the bathroom, no toilet paper holder or towel racks, and almost no storage. There is a small gap between two walls that we think is supposed to be used as a closet, but there is no closet rod and the back wall is sloppily patched. Supposedly, this apartment is complete. The stupid kitchen cabinets are so narrow, the dishes I set in there could not lay flat.
After a whole day of unloading, unpacking, and cleaning, the place seemed pretty homey. I even fell fast asleep on the most comfortable sleeper sofa in the world that J bought while I was waiting for my guys to finish putting the rest of J’s furniture together. Tomorrow, he’ll be staying at his home away from home.