Handling housing

Claire Fisher

One of the biggest steps we make in college is moving off campus. From rent to parking to utilities, the factors we have to consider in our new housing choice are often things we haven’t had to think about before. On top of all of those things, many of us have found the people managing our housing take advantage of the fact that we’re not as knowledgeable on all of these topics as older tenants may be.

If your housing complex isn’t coming through on something they promised you, you need to speak up. If they’re charging you for something you don’t believe you should be charged for, speak up. If you’ve had a terrible experience with a particular housing complex, make sure other students know about it.

In the past couple of months, I’ve heard story after story about apartment complexes not including amenities that had been promised, simply providing poor office service, or neglecting to take care of maintenance issues. When this happens, don’t just complain about it to your friends, speak up.

Write an e-mail to the apartment complex office or go into the office tell them they need to take of these things. As a paying customer, you have a right to expect that you will receive all of the services you were promised. And as students who know less about what to expect from a housing situation, it’s easy for apartment complexes to take advantage of our ignorance.

In my own apartment complex, the wifi was shut off several times without notice, our recycle bin was removed from the property, and the office consistently gave out incorrect answers regarding important issues like how much rent I owed or what our move-in date was, among many other issues. After putting up with this all summer and most of last year, I sent a strongly worded email to the office explaining why all of these issues were completely unacceptable and requesting that they respond with a plan to solve these problems.

Eventually, I received a response from the owner of my apartment complex and was able to talk with him about my concerns. He was receptive to what I had to say and explained the plans he was putting in place to solve some of the problems in the office. Overall, I was glad that I spoke up for myself and felt better about living in my apartment complex.

If you feel like your apartment complex is scamming you, call them out on it. When all the damage charges come in at the end of the year, don’t just accept them if they don’t seem right. If you don’t question it and just pay the money, you’re only letting the management know that it’s acceptable to overcharge students because they won’t bother to ask questions.

The next thing you need to do if your apartment complex stinks is to write reviews so that other students don’t make the same mistake you did. Get online and share your experiences. Not only will this help other students, but also it might lead to changes in the apartment complex. The housing complexes here are competitive with one another, they want and need satisfied customers. If you’re not satisfied, make sure you say so.

We as students need to become more informed consumers. We need to start asking questions before signing leases. Tour apartments, compare rents, read online reviews, write and ask if there’s a recycle bin. By not asking these questions and just signing leases, we’re running the risk that they’ll take advantage of us.