Top 5 Empty Promises to Expect From College Landlords

By Shanique Wright on May 27, 2017

It is expensive to live on campus but most students have no choice due to work, school, and other commitments. No college student can deny the basic annoyances that come with renting rooms on campus; it’s simple, you pay for what you get and what you get is usually four years of empty promises and binding leases.

So I’ve decided to share the top five empty promises to expect from college landlords.

1. I’ll fix it next week

Every college student tenant can agree that this is the number one phrase used by landlords when we complain about a broken toilet or the bathroom fixture falling off the vanity. At some point, we all fall victim to this promise. It is almost as if they attended a seminar and memorized this phrase in the 10-page booklet they received.

Many of us are clueless to the rights that we have as tenants and so we continue to look forward to “next week” while hoping the toilet doesn’t get plugged on the next guest that comes over.

2. No, it’s fine … you can get off the lease early

Internship opportunities off campus are common in the summer and so many college students put in requests to their landlords to either sublease the apartment or get off the lease early. Now, this may vary by landlord because some are very understanding and realize that opportunities only come once and will allow you to sublease the space; then, there are the assholes.

Never accept their permission as valid unless it is written or signed because like many college students you can end up having to pay two leases for the entire summer. “No it’s fine” usually means, “Is this kid fucking kidding me? That’s not my problem, you signed a lease.”

3. I’ll help you find roommates for the next lease period

Now, many college students rent houses and split the cost of leasing the entire space but when one or two decides to move, leaving the space vacant, just follow suit and find a different place to live. Landlords operate in their own interest. Meaning, if a house has five bedrooms and two are vacant, they will lease the entire space to five incoming roommates instead of seeking out two persons to fill the space. It is just the logic of their business and you end up having to search for a new apartment in mid-May when most cheap apartments are already taken and you have to choose between the expensive studio apartment or the dilapidated apartment down the street built in 1920.

4. You are guaranteed your safety deposit … it’s the law

Yes, the law does state that landlords should return the safety deposits of tenants within 21 days or they will be penalized. However, some landlords will make up the most immaculate bullshit to withhold some or all of the money. Take before and after photos; this is the key to actually guaranteeing any money back or a fair trial if the situation is brought to court.

Safety deposits are not guaranteed if you cannot prove that the peeling carpet was there before you moved in. Due to the excitement of having your own space, you may forget to make note of the mold in the ceiling or the broken blinds above your window. If you have a dishonest landlord, watch out for some trouble after September 21.

5. You won’t be held accountable for your roommate’s mistakes

Yes, college kids fall for this lie and end up being evicted along with their deviant roommate. Laws are available to protect tenants who have a rowdy and dishonest roommate; however, confronting the landlord first will do no good. Some will attempt to sympathize with you, but evicting that person means that they lose out on rent and no landlord wants that. It’s all a facade which stops when the lease ends and you end up being denied your safety deposit because damages done by your roommate are being compensated by that money.

In extreme cases, they will sue you and your roommate for additional charges and inconveniences if that deposit is not enough. Too often college students find themselves in these situations and are swindled out of thousands of dollars. The best approach is to seek legal help from the university if necessary as early as possible. Never trust a fox in sheep’s clothing.

Leasing a property is similar to gambling. Having a cooperative and honest landlord can make your college years easy and comfortable. However, the opposite can cost you thousands of dollars in debt and a reputation that tarnishes your credit history. It is important to be cognizant of the history of the space and learn from those who have previously rented the property the highs and lows of the landlord. This is essential to avoiding extreme stress and a phone call to your parents mid-semester asking for money.

Shanique Wright is a Jamaican native with a passion for writing and doing research on social issues and ways to help end global poverty. She is the founder of the blog layeredonionz where she provides discussions on issues surrounding politics, race, class and gender.

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