The Daily Evergreen

Demand more from your landlords

Those who own most housing in Pullman are not held to a high enough standard by students, city

Many+students+deal+with+poor+conditions%2C+like+lost+keys+and+black+mold%2C+after+landlords+either+refuse+to+help+or+never+show+up.
Many students deal with poor conditions, like lost keys and black mold, after landlords either refuse to help or never show up.

Many students deal with poor conditions, like lost keys and black mold, after landlords either refuse to help or never show up.

NICK SANDIFER | THE DAILY EVERGREEN

NICK SANDIFER | THE DAILY EVERGREEN

Many students deal with poor conditions, like lost keys and black mold, after landlords either refuse to help or never show up.

HANAH GOETZ, Evergreen columnist

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It’s safe to say that college students get crap deals despite all the money we pay.

I get it. In a way, many of us are new to independence and we have steep learning curves to go through before we can call ourselves adults. But this does not mean we should live in unsafe environments.

We paid our dues living in dorms and now we’re ready for our own spaces. We expect apartments that are safe for us to live in, but landlords have been taking advantage of us, giving us barely stable apartments while trying to suck us dry of our student loans. Most of us don’t even meet our landlords, instead only interacting with property managers who don’t have a lot of power to change anything.

Senior English and human development major Savannah Carter is one of these students who has fallen victim to poor apartment management. The house she lived in with her roommates up until recently was an open door to random strangers — including a stranger on acid having dinner with them without invitation. They would lock the doors, but the previous owners had lost the keys. The landlord never replaced them. There were parties, many of them never signed up for, both verbal and physical fights, and petty theft.

Carter and her roommates also had to pay for issues they didn’t cause.

“Our house flooded and the deck broke,” Carter said. “[My landlord] called the plumber, and we had to pay for all the damages.”

I attempted to get in contact with local landowners, including Holly and Russ Urness, and DRA, but didn’t receive any response.

Though less extreme — and significantly more legal — many students go through the process of filing complaints and being put at the bottom of the list of any landlord’s concern. Many landlords will write off the problem as that of the student’s. They offer advice on how to fix the issues when the issues aren’t up to the student to fix, or they refuse to admit that their apartments have safety issues.

Black mold is a common problem in apartments that is easily fixed with the right drainage systems and better ventilation. While many landlords make enough money to fix these health issues, they choose to ignore it, along with many other safety problems: cracked or broken stairs, unstable flooring, bad wiring, etc.

Instead, they choose to build new apartments like the downtown luxury lofts that are impossible for college students to afford.

While most students live with the crappy environment, then move on, some students have had extreme cases that have brought them to sue their landlords. These have ranged from inefficient door locks — resulting in a rape at the University of North Dakota — to multiple cases of increased or unnecessary fees that take advantage of tenants.

Some of us don’t have the best reputation in terms of home care, but that shouldn’t even matter. Just because some students are negligent doesn’t mean landlords should risk the health and safety of their tenants for more money.

In fact, in cases like Carter’s, it only takes one student to file a lawsuit to ruin their reputation, their wallets and their business. Many students may not fight their landlords, thinking it isn’t a problem to worry about in such a short time span, but the fact is: They’re seeing us as paydays, not people. They’re checked out.

We need Pullman to start paying attention to the activities of landlords by setting higher standards for the safety of the students in the area.

We are paying for so much, yet we’re getting little in return. We at least deserve to sleep through the night without worry.

Editor’s note: This column has been updated from its original version.

About the Writer
HANAH GOETZ, Evergreen columnist/opinion editor

Hanah Goetz is a senior creative writing major from Kenosha, WI. She can be contacted at 335-2290 or by [email protected]

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