No More Students

I  own  rental property.  It’s in a Victorian building, relatively well maintained, and walking distance to a private university.  It is also along a rapid transit line, and just 3 blocks from Lake Michigan.  It is  three bedrooms, 1 bathroom (with a deep clawfoot tub), a porch, a  backyard for bar-b-queing, and includes  one parking space and free use of a washer and dryer.  for  $1200 a month—which includes heat, it is considered a good value.  The neighborhood is  eclectic.  We have nightlife close by, and  a grocery store .

I had very good tenants for a number or years.  One couple saved up and bought a condo.  Another  couple—older gay men, lived below me for about 4  years, and then  one died. The other felt the rent was too much for himself, and he didn’t want a roommate.  In this  neighborhood,  due to the  real estate crash in 2008, there are plenty of condos for rent.  The infrastructure of these places may not be very good, but they are decorated nicely. If you just want a place for yourself, they might be a better value  if you don’t need the square   footage (my  place is 1300 square feet).  So, I started marketing to students.  Big mistake.

I always state that it is a  three bedroom place. When someone calls, I ask that all decision makers be present at the appointment.  This never happens. Excuses  are always  they are in class or at work,and they trust (my) judgement.  But they al;ways have to return with their roommates. As this  had happened several times, I came to understand that  college students at private universities think they are special and the rules don’t apply to them.

I ask for credit reports.  Clearly, being young, most students don’t have much of a credit history. What they do have is  boatloads of debt, and the average seems to be about $50,000.  More or less…no joke.  Some have borrowed  for living expenses.   Most are getting help from parents. This means they have never had to act responsibly and don’t understand a contract is a contract—even a lease.  I learned that most  young men won’t bother trying to rent from a landlord who lives on the premises.  The girls, however, seem to think  being free spirited is  ok.  So, you don’t just get  three  female roommates, you get their boyfriends, whom the girls give keys to, whom aren’t responsible for anything, and  I think this is the  main cause of the problems.

I had  one student who, a month before the lease was up, decided she didn’t like the  natural woodwork in the bathroom, so she decided to paint it—or at least start  painting it.  She gave up. I had to strip it, i can’t imagine what compelled her.

I had totally gutted the kitchen and put in new kitchen cabinets, appliances, and counter tops. Somehow, they managed to  chip  the counter top, and nobody could figure out how or when.  Beer bottles and cigarette butts all over the yard after weekly parties.  My God, we knew over  40 years ago that smoking was linked to lung cancer. What would cause someone under  25 to start smoking?  it doesn’t make you look sophisticated—it makes you look like a stupid, spoiled brat!

Twice they broke the washing machine.   Once, it was because of not adhering to the  ‘HE’ low sudsing detergent rule.  Once—dig this—a BOBBY PIN in a pocket.  Who uses Bobby Pins?

But my favorite is  what they managed to do to the toilet.  Last batch of girls had real problems with the toilet over flowing (which  wrecked a control on the boiler, which was right below their bathroom) and finally, it looked like it might be a compression valve problem.  I had my roommate—an engineer, come  down to their bathroom to help me trouble shoot. He said (no joke), “I thought girls lived down here!”  The bathroom was not only below his standards—I have lived in Africa, and it was below mine. They had so little respect for themselves and each other.

We replaced the valve, but the toilet continued to leak, and over flow,  even after I had  rodded it out several times.  So I called a plumber. He told me the tank was cracked.  HOW DO YOU CRACK A TOILET TANK?  No explanation.  I’ve had tenants with kids  break a brass faucet.  So the plumber told me  to get a new  toilet and he would install it.

“I found out what the problem was,” he  told me.  We never did  discover how they managed to crack the tank, but  he turned the  removed toilet over, and  there were several dozen plastic tampon tubes.  “Rodding was not going to get rid of this because they float up,” he told me.  I had asked them, too, about tampon tubes and all denied. So, when  I confronted them, much finger pointing—and it was X—even though they had told her not to.  I told them this was coming out of their security deposit.

It took the 3 girls and a set of parents about  4 days to  clean up—the kitchen was such a mess, and one had her Daddy tell me my place was a dump and I had intimidated their friends (I wish!), and he would not give me the keys back until I refunded their deposit, i wrote them a check for $500 and told them to leave.

No more kids.  I will sell this place & move out of the country before I  rent to kids.


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