Handle problems with apartments calmly

By Isabella Jackson, Supplements editor

College apartments put up with a lot. Property managers often deal with posters hung with push pins, students who only clean when their moms visit and at least a few spilled drinks. Unfortunately, this means that when students move in, the apartment might not be in the best shape.

First, take advantage of the list of items that your landlord gives you upon moving in. This paper allows you to write down all of the issues with the apartment, including broken furniture or appliances, chipped paint, holes in the wall or areas that weren’t cleaned. Marking these down and taking pictures proves that these issues were there when you moved in. This documentation protects you when you move out. Additionally, let your landlord know about any issues that need to be resolved right away.

Get the name or business card of the property manager for your building. Many of the leasing companies on campus are large and own multiple properties, but there will be one staff member that will know the most about your building. Having his or her email will help you if there are issues or if you have questions about the property.  

Familiarize yourself with the maintenance phone numbers for your apartment and the services provided. Acknowledge that some calls, either for issues after hours or problems that you caused, may result in a fee. Looking at these early, when you are calm and have enough time to pay attention to the information, will be helpful when the dishwasher starts to leak, or the hot water won’t work a half hour before class.

Reach out to the companies in charge of utilities if you have any concerns. In my experience, they are very helpful.

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    Last year, I came home from studying during finals week and thought I smelled gas in my kitchen. I called a friend who luckily was willing to come over at midnight to see if I was imagining the smell.

    Unfortunately, it wasn’t a stress-induced overreaction, and he told me to call the Ameren gas hotline. The number is staffed 24 hours a day, and the woman who answered the phone calmed me down and said that a worker would be over within a half hour. The worker found the leak, turned off the gas and gave me a piece of paper detailing the incident to give to my landlord.

    Ameren, which provides gas and electricity for the state, also offers an Outage Center feature, which allows customers to report power outages and check the status of their power if they are not at home.

    Next, double check all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your unit, and make sure that the batteries are kept up to date. While you’re at it, clean the oven and stove. When the oven turns on, a little bit of spilled food — like the cheese from last night’s frozen pizza — can start to burn and trigger your smoke detector. Keeping on top of cleaning and basic maintenance can make sure that small issues are noticed before they become major ones.

    Lastly, be respectful to your neighbors. If you don’t clean up your kitchen and get roaches, they will migrate outside of your unit and become a disgusting problem for the rest of the building.

    If you have an issue, be sure to mention it to your landlord and follow up if it is not corrected quickly. It is important for you to advocate for yourself, especially in a situation where something is broken or potentially unsafe. After all, you are paying rent to live there, and you deserve to get what you are paying for.

    Isabella is a junior in LAS.                    

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