Saturday, April 1, 2023

Housing horror stories: Students share their East Lansing housing troubles

March 15, 2023
Outside of Mayo Hall on March 1, 2023.
Outside of Mayo Hall on March 1, 2023. —
Photo by Sonya Barlow | The State News

East Lansing has a variety of off-campus houses and apartments where students primarily reside — many of them much older than what students are typically used to back home.

With aging buildings comes problems. Ask any alumni or current student and they can tell you a story about their experience living in one of these houses or apartments, many being what people would describe as “horrifying.” 

A sh-t shower

Kinesiology senior Lauren Wall said she has many stories to tell about the house on Spartan Avenue that she lived in junior year. With her bedroom being in the basement, Wall saw the worst of it when it comes to all of the, as she called them, "perks" her former house had. 

It all started on move-in day, during her 10-hour drive from her home state, Minnesota, to East Lansing. Wall received a phone call from one of her roommates saying that it looked like her room was being renovated and she wouldn’t be able to move in for at least a week. 

“They ripped out the floors, the walls, like everything and didn’t tell me,” Wall said. “Just expected me to find out when I got there. And since I came from Minnesota, I felt like I couldn’t just turn around and go.” 

Wall said that the reason for these renovations was due to neglect from the previous owners of a mold problem in the basement, forcing the landlord to completely tear up the room in order to clean out the issue. 

With no place to stay, Wall ended up at The Graduate Hotel for a week and a half, with the landlord covering the cost of her stay. When Wall was finally able to return to her room, the problems with the house weren’t fixed. In fact, they had only just begun. 

Wall said the room was very damp and she often took her clothes out of the closet to find that they were wet. In addition, there were many cracks in the walls of her room, where strange bugs would crawl out from the sides.

Water dripped from the ceiling onto her bed. She later found out it was caused by one of her roommates spilling a water bottle in the living room, which was right above her room. 

Aside from water bottle spills, Wall said “dirt water” would fall from the ceiling onto her bed while she was sleeping and that the moisture problem in her room was so bad that her sandals became overgrown with mold. 

However, Wall said the plumbing issues in her house far outweighed the mold. She recalled one time, amid taking a shower, the bottom of the tub started filling with brown water, engulfing her ankles. 

Wall later found out this was caused by the line from the toilet and the shower draining together.The water that had covered her feet had come from the toilet upstairs, due to a piping problem caused by overgrown tree roots. 

Wall and her roommates immediately had a plumber come to fix the problem. While the plumber was working, Wall describes hearing what sounded like a loud splash and then a scream from the plumber. 

 “I open the door and he’s covered in sh-t, like sewage water and he had apparently tried to unclog it from the basement and it just rained on him and left this giant puddle filling that entire room in our basement,” Wall said. 

Wall said the plumber instantly left and never came back. She said the mess remained in the basement until the landlord sent someone to clean it up — multiple days later.

Despite the many issues, Wall said she had many fun experiences in her Spartan Avenue home. Her new home has lacked such issues and she plans to stay in it next year.

A flooded closet

Plumbing-related horror stories tend to be a trend in East Lansing student residences. Journalism sophomore Allison Albin had a similar experience in her off-campus home early this fall. 

Two weeks after Albin and her roommates moved into the house, their toilet started having problems. They called to have a plumber come fix it. 

Instead of sending a plumber, Albin said the landlord sent a general maintenance man instead. 

When maintenance was done fixing the toilet, Albin said she went into her bedroom to find it filled to her ankles with dirty water. She screamed and the maintenance man immediately came upstairs to see what was wrong. She said he then took out a pocket knife and ripped open the carpet in her closet,revealing a drain that had a loose lid. 

 "I had to throw away my brand-new rug, about half the stuff in my closet. I had to throw away my brand-new chair I bought from my room. I had stored probably around $400 worth of groceries, school supplies, like batteries, like cleaning supplies under my bed that were all destroyed that I had to throw away,” Albin said. 

Albin then had to move out of the house for about two weeks until the housing company could fix the issue and renovate her room. 

For those two weeks, Albin commuted to MSU from her hometown of South Lyon, which is an hour away from campus.

“It was so stressful and it was the worst move-in I could possibly think of,” she said.

Apartments aren't immune

Housing horror stories aren't exclusive to houses. Following a pipe burst in the room above his, information science freshman Jake Toth found his room flooded.

He thought his roommate above him had left the shower on and immediately went upstairs to find him. It turned out his roommate’s entire bathroom had also been flooded due to the burst as well.

 “Obviously, my whole room was ruined so I had to get new carpet, basically a new bathroom and I was out of my apartment for almost a month,” Toth said. 

The only personal belongings of Toth that were impacted by this incident were his bed sheets and a few notebooks, leaving the rest of the damages up to the management company to fix. 

Although these stories can be quite deterring when it comes to living off-campus, the majority of off-campus housing experiences are also filled with fun memories. 

Wall said she had many fun experiences in her Spartan Avenue home. Albin plans to live in her same house next year and even bring in another one of her friends to live there too. Toth has since moved back into his apartment, saying he is glad to be back with his roommates and back on campus.


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