Column: Home sweet home

By Jeff Lipsey

Burnt carpeting, junk mattresses, holes in doors: usual ailments of a typical campus apartment. But I believe they don’t have to be. We’ve all heard discouraging stories about landlords and believe that these misfortunes can’t happen to the average person.

I was once one of those people, putting the words of others in that situation as a mere exaggeration. That is also why we never bothered to check out the Tenant Union before we rented from Gabe’s Place Apartments.

When the three of us moved into our apartment, we were expecting a lot and received a little. The refrigerator was broken. Further, the carpeting had burn holes in it and the dishwasher leaked more water than the sink. One of the bedroom doors had a hole in it and the screen door on the balcony was no longer in working order. The walls were poorly painted and the apartment had a bad odor to it.

We complained. They never did replace the carpeting, so we placed a piece of our own to hide the burn holes. The holes in the door still remains and the screen door has yet to be repaired. I’m certain that these problems occur throughout campus, however, the issues I’ve mentioned so far are minor when you compare it to what has happened recently.

May 27: We complain about persistent power outage in the bedrooms and bathrooms (actually, this has happened since a month before but we were pretty lazy and complacent). The lights would flicker and occasionally cause brownouts only in the bedrooms in the bathrooms. It would just reboot our computers and turn off our clocks, not that horrible.

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A couple repairmen came out and checked the circuit breaker. They concluded they didn’t know what was happening. Well damn, thanks guys for coming out. The problem never stopped, in fact, it got worse. Power would go out for longer periods of time, sometimes two or three hours. Our alarm clocks became useless.

June 6: I made a startling discovery. If I turn on the stove, then I can turn on the power to the bedrooms and the bathroom. Awesome, whenever I need to use the bathroom let me first go turn on the oven. This worked for about two weeks and until the stove could no longer keep the power on for longer than 10 seconds, at that point I called Gabe’s Place again.

As we waited for them to respond, my roommate and I went out and bought a 50 foot, heavy-duty power cord and ran that from the living room to our bedrooms.

Somewhere between noon and 4 p.m. on June 27, the power goes completely out in my bedroom and the bathroom. We no longer can take a shower without leaving the door open and stringing a lamp in there. We call the next day and complain, yet, the repairmen never came. On Wednesday, we got fed up and went to the Tenant Union to complain.

If you’ve never been to the Tenant Union then I urge you to go. Not only are they some of the nicest people you will meet, but also they’ll listen to your problems and answer all of your questions with the utmost respect.

We then called the power company, who told us we need a representative from Gabe’s Place to talk to them on our behalf (it is their building but we pay for power so it got complicated for some reason). Fine, we head to Gabe’s new office in downtown Urbana. Surprising to us, the receptionist told us that AmerenIP was going to come to our apartment on Friday, July 1, and to leave a number to schedule a time.

The 36 days from May 27 to July 1 lasted a long time to have power problems, especially when at any time the power could go out. Whether you are taking a shower or trying to write an article, it could go at any moment.

Don’t listen to me or your friends and do your own due diligence at the Tenant Union. Find out about your landlord before you sign the lease.

Jeff Lipsey is a senior in business. His column appears on Wednesdays. He can be reached at [email protected].