Student housing less than hospitable

Landlord licensing and housing inspection should be mandated in the city of Eau Claire

More stories from Stephanie Kuski


Photo by Stephanie Kuski

Kuski’s apartment flooded due to landlord negligence, but no one has yet to be held accountable.

If someone told me a couple months ago I would be homeless, I would have laughed.

But here I am.

In March my apartment flooded after my upstairs neighbors’ bathtub had a crack in it and the water drained into my living room because of a large hole in the ceiling between the two apartments.

Water showered into my apartment, ruining all my possessions as outlets began to smoke and the stench of musty water became unbearable.

Panicking, I called my landlord, who would not answer my half dozen sobbing voicemails. Without knowing what else to do, I called 911. They told me to wait outside for an officer to come. I waited for three hours, in the pouring rain, for an officer to give me five minutes of her time and tell me there was nothing she could do because there was no criminal activity.

It was easily the worst day of my life, and it only got worse.

Well after midnight, I frantically called my parents to tell them what happened. The next day my dad furiously called the fire department, health department, housing inspector and anyone else he could complain to.

The fire department and health inspector came more times than I can count only to condemn the apartment. But they had to give my landlord 60 days to fix the problems before all the tenants had to vacate the building.

I have never been so furious, so frustrated and disappointed. How could the city allow this to happen? Why wasn’t anyone held accountable? My landlord had very few consequences from the situation, but I was out on the street.

The crux of the situation is that my landlord knew there was a hole in the ceiling and minor leaks from the upstairs apartment may flood into my own. This negligence could have been prevented if my landlord had been licensed and inspection of the building was mandated every couple years, which, to my surprise, is not required in Eau Claire.

According to city data, approximately one-sixth of the population of Eau Claire is made up of college students, roughly half of whom live off campus in run down, cheap apartments. There are no requirements as to who can rent out these properties to the students and there are no mandated inspections of the apartments unless there is a complaint.