Follow these tips to deal with scheming landlords

By Michael Bodenhagen, Staff Writer

Nothing screams “adult life” more than apartment hunting. Living on your own is a big part of the college experience, and it can be difficult to find the perfect place to call home.

While apartment hunting can be exciting, it is important to remember that many landlords are out to trick you and take your money. I was unfortunate enough to fall victim to an apartment scam. I won’t name-drop the apartment complex that scammed me for obvious reasons, but it was during my sophomore year that I learned a very hard lesson. Without doing much research, I blindly signed a lease with my friends at an apartment complex I had only visited once.

I should have known that this place was too good to be true when I saw they had almost all one-star reviews. However, I was excited to be living on my own, so I did not care. One of my apartment’s big incentives to sign was the fact that they offered free electricity. Well, this turned out to be a lie. One week before our move-in date, I received a letter from the management team. It said that their free electricity deal, which they actively advertised for over a year, was an “error,” and that I would have to pay the electricity bill. Unfortunately for me, I lived on the first floor, and because heat rises, I had to pay extra for my heating in the wintertime. My bill racked up to $300 at one point. Instead of getting the free electricity the apartment promised me, I ended up having the highest bill in the entire apartment complex. 

While this was less than ideal, I cannot call it misfortune, because there were many things I could have done to avoid this — the biggest being to simply look into other places. If you think you have found the perfect spot, look at another place, even just for fun! Who knows — maybe that next apartment you look at will be even better.

It is also important to do actual research on the places you are looking at. While it may not be the most credible resource, I like to look at Reddit. On the UIUC subreddit, you get to read the viewpoints of everyday students who are not afraid to put their residence on blast if need be. It is good to hear from real people because most of the time it is these people who are the targets of landlords.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

One important factor to consider when looking into an apartment complex is its rent price. If the price is ridiculously high for no reason, you should consider the possibility that it is a scam. Furthermore, you should look out for incentives such as free electricity. While it is not uncommon for apartments to cover your utilities up to a certain amount, I have not seen another apartment advertise free utilities. When looking for the perfect apartment, just remember there are people out to get you — and your money!

Michael is a senior in LAS

[email protected]