‘You get what you pay for’ doesn’t necessarily fit the scenario of student rentals at UW-Eau Claire. Students signing with large-scale renters have to switch to the mindset of ‘you get what you sign for.’
Senior Chelsea Wilfong signed with Caron’s Campus Area Housing in 2010. She said her roommates and herself had multiple issues with the physical state of the house, as well as customer service. Their only defense against a landlord who fell through on promises was to be aggressive and overly persistent, Wilfong said.
“Be really aggressive about pestering them until they (help you),” Wilfong said. “If you don’t care, they won’t — they already have you locked in for the money anyway.”
One of her biggest complaints was an incident where their hot water heater exploded and the basement flooded. The landlord was very reluctant to take the situation as seriously as it needed to be, she said.
“We called them and said, ‘Yeah, this thing, it is shooting out water and the basement is filling up’ … and they were like ‘Okay, we’ll send someone over in the morning’ and we were like ‘No.’”
Wilfong said it was a huge hassle and took over two hours for someone to come over and fix the issue, but that was how the housing agency frequently acted.
Another issue they had was the landlord not following through on promises in the lease and they had to physically show them the agreements. In the winter, there was a huge snowstorm and CCAH claimed that plowing wasn’t included on the lease, Wilfong said. She said it took the entire house calling them to have any progress made.
“We finally pulled up the lease and we said, ‘We need you to do it. It’s on the lease,’” Wilfong said. “I think it literally took a week to get plowed. I don’t think any of our cars moved.”
If you haven’t signed a lease yet, Wilfong said to find a smaller company because she finds that they are usually much more “attentive and caring.”
“I think the big thing is they promise they will do stuff and they don’t,” Wilfong said.
CCAH declined to comment on the subject.
Wilfong isn’t the only student to have trouble with communication. Junior Trevor Kask is a renter of Abode Rentals and finds contacting his landlord, Kelly Strunk, very difficult because she prefers to communicate through text message.
“I really like the house, it’s nice property,” Kask said. “But I do not like the unprofessionalism that the landlord gives out.”
Over the summer, Kask and his roommates had an incident where they needed to mow their lawn or Abode would bill them for having someone mow. Kask said the lawn was mowed that night but they were still billed for a mowing, even though no one ever came.
When Kask tried contacting Strunk, there was miscommunication or no communication at all which made the situation more dramatic than it needed to be.
“I just hate that she doesn’t answer her phone when you call her about an issue,” Kask said. “I would call and leave a message and she would text me back.”
Strunk said she texts students because she finds it easier to contact them and finds that some situations don’t necessarily need a return phone call.
“I return calls … voice-to-voice or via text,” Strunk said. “It depends on what they are talking about.”
But Kask would still prefer a call to a text message from a landlord.
“I guess a text can be appropriate in some situations but being a renter, paying as much as I pay, I kind of expect to have one-on-one conversations with someone,” Kask said.
Kask and his roommates are resigning their lease for next year, he said, because the property is too nice to let go but warns students who plan to rent with Abode need to be prepared for a lot of hassle when contacting the landlords.
When dealing with larger-scale realtors, plan for a less personal experience. When it comes to students housing, Kask said he is trading a good landlord experience for a nice house and a good location.
When signing a lease, keeping in mind of the long-term situation of your housing experience can save a renter hassle down the road.