Students express conflicts regarding off-campus housing

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At St. Cloud State, most students move from the dorms to apartments or houses after their first year on campus, often facing the challenges that come with being a first time renter.

A number of rental properties benefit from the amount of students who transfer into these kinds of living arrangements as it brings these businesses into the campus community.

However, some students have run into minor conflicts when it comes to off-campus residency. Some of the issues mentioned from a variety of renters include mold, broken utilities and strict deadlines for late rental policies.

The students the University Chronicle interviewed asked to remain anonymous in order to not receive backlash from current or previous renters.

One anonymous student that rents from Charlamain Apartments near Hallenbeck said:

“We moved in on June 1st and realized there was a broken smoke detector, then we realized there was black mold under the kitchen sink and then there was a shelf that was broken under the bathroom sink, the heater was broken because it was bent at an angle a little and then one of my roommates had a missing light fixture,” the student said.

In a letter sent to the University Chronicle, Charlamain  Apartments explained they do go through their properties before students move in, check to make sure everything is working and that it’s a safe environment. They also denied the mention of black mold under the kitchen sink at the residence, saying it was a stain from a prior leak that was repaired.

The students at the apartment also said they became annoyed with the property managers because it took them over a month to fix the other problems in the home.

“Some of the issues we’ve had could be hazardous to our health, I was even tempted to not pay rent,” the student said.

In the letter, Charlamain properties said they have a repair policy in which they are supposed to fix any issues with residents, “within 10 business days,” but they also said the process can take longer if parts and materials need to be ordered.

Another thing mentioned about Charlamain was the strict deadline in which students had to pay rent. For most apartments around the area, the average leeway time is 3-5 business days for time extension on payments.

“If you don’t pay on time, they get really mad at you and give you these big fees,” the student said. One student said they were on the swim team and that they were an accounting major which didn’t leave a lot of time to work to get rent on time.

Charlamain properties said it’s very clear that timely pay is very important to them and that a 4 day grace period was allowed for lateness.

While Charlamain Apartments only owns one building for college students within the area, McDonald Property Management owns a large number of apartments across SCSU campus neighborhoods coming with mixed reviews from its residents. Some say they’ve had an excellent experience with the rental company:

“I don’t have an issue with them! I’m currently with them and they are super understanding if you just communicate with them. Our sink was clogged I called and they came like 5 minutes after I had called,” said SCSU student Elisabeth Pliego. (Pillage gave the University Chronicle the green light to have her name mentioned in this article.)

While others have said their experiences, services, and housing quality have been bellow par:

“We have mold everywhere in our bathroom and basement,” said one resident. One of my roommates had to scrub it off because there is so much mold in the bathroom.”

The student also mentioned that the sewage backed up so bad it got into their room.

Others mentioned they had problems similar to this and that the company did not give their direct deposits back, but Mcdonald Property Management owner, Dan Borgert and his assistant James Hanson said there’s always two sides to the story, as some residents experience issues in their homes and don’t notify them, but they also mentioned they have so many properties to manage that it’s almost impossible to document everything.

“That may be one of our weaknesses,” James said. “We have so many houses to keep track of that not everything gets’s documented.”

“When you’re trying to do too much, things just fall through the cracks,” Dan also noted.

The other thing they discussed was that some students break things themselves.

“People can be naive to the cost of things. That’s just the nature of college students,” they said. “Sometimes they tinker with things and there’s a heavy cost.”

However, the student in the residence with the mold problem said all of the issues they have with their living space were present when they first arrived.

“We didn’t do anything, we didn’t break the house, we want our money back,” the student said.

Dan and James said they do run through inspections to make sure everything in the house is safe, but said sometimes they run into unique situations.

“A lot of people don’t even know they have issues with maintenance.”

Multiple students who’ve said they’ve had issues with rental property managers advise students who haven’t rented before to do extensive research on who to rent from.

“Instead of looking for the closest places to campus, always make sure to look online for those with good reviews, or ask around on campus to find out who is good,” they said.

With that being said, Dan, James and those at Charlamain Apartments encourage their residents to come and speak with them about any particular issues they may have.

“If students are having these issues, they should come talk to us,” James and Dan said. “We cannot fix what we don’t know is broken.”