Penn State students turn 'uneducated' experiences with apartment landlords into advice – The Daily Collegian Online

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Cedarbrook at The Canyon, an off-campus student apartment complex in downtown State College, Pa., stands on the corner of Beaver Avenue and Locust Lane on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021.
Cedarbrook at The Canyon, an off-campus student apartment complex in downtown State College, Pa., stands on the corner of Beaver Avenue and Locust Lane on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021.
During the process of deciding to move off campus, many Penn State students often find themselves scrambling to keep up with the learning curve of new experiences — one of them being dealing with their landlords.
“Honestly, I was very uneducated on it,” Alexandra Arias said. “My parents were immigrants… they had to learn on their own, and I guess they finally thought the same thing for me because whenever I asked them, they were like, ‘You can figure it out on your own.’”
In her struggle to learn how to manage bills and pay security deposits, she said she turned to her new landlord for advice — finding what she said were “odd” results.
“They didn’t even help me themselves, ironically,” Arias (sophomore-biobehavioral health) said. “They just give you like the nearest person in the office.”
She said she didn’t realize initially how “difficult” it is to “get information from landlords.”
“I feel like it’s better when I call [because] I just get more information when they’re put on the spot,” she said.
Before moving into his first apartment in State College, Brennan Farrand said when he thought of landlords, the word “sleazy” came to mind.
“They really pressure you into signing the lease as soon as possible,” Farrand (junior-chemical engineering) said. “They’ll say you only have a certain amount of time, but like, if you ask for more time, typically they will give you more.”
Since gaining experience in the downtown State College housing market, he said he has concluded that housing prices are “way higher than they should be.”
“It’s almost like [landlords are] working collectively together because the rent’s just way too high downtown for anything to be worth it in my opinion,” Farrand said.
Nicholas Hill, who has been living in a student apartment complex for two years, said students who are renting for the first time may be at a disadvantage when it comes to dealing with landlords.
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“If there’s something specific about the tenant-landlord relationship that might be toxic or something, they might not understand like that specific part is not supposed to be happening because this is their first time ever renting an apartment,” Hill (senior-computer engineering) said.
During his years living off campus, he said most of his personal experiences with landlords have been “touch-and-go,” that is, until a pipe burst above his bathroom during winter break 2020-21.
“When I came back, I found that the ceiling wasn’t entirely repaired,” Hill said. “Eventually, that got plastered over, and… occasionally, the ceiling would start leaking again… seems like almost every six months or so after a while the ceiling kind of starts falling apart again.”
Other students, like Bernardo De la Garza and Dwalyn Bryant, said they’ve had “helpful” and “decent” experiences, respectively.
“I give them a fair rating,” Bryant (junior-biobehavioral health) said. “When I have a maintenance issue, they come in — if I still see a problem, they come in again. They pick up their phone — not all the time but most of the time — it’s fair.”
Bryant said her landlord has kept their exchanges “professional” and “frequent.”
“For the most part, they’ve been… pretty understanding of when I’ve had problems,” De la Garza (senior-accounting) said of his landlord. “Don’t be afraid to ask for anything you need… maybe they might surprise you.”
While communication may be frequent for some, other students never meet with their landlord, according to Asher Smart.
“I haven’t really met with my landlords personally,” Smart (senior-psychology) said. “Whenever I have any kind of issue… [I] usually just send in a request, and it usually gets fixed in a matter of a week or two.”
He said the requests are sent through an online portal, and there’s no option to talk face-to-face.
“It’s efficient, but having an option to talk in person wouldn’t hurt,” Smart said. “If you call or something, they just say, ‘Go on the portal.’”
Sabrina Hinkley said when she lived in a larger apartment complex, she had “no idea” who her landlord was.
“When you have a huge building, it gets hard to keep track of everything and like give everyone the attention,” Hinkley (senior-kinesiology) said. “It’s nice to [live] in a smaller complex because you can kind of have more like a personable conversation with the rental people.”
When it comes to dealing with landlords, Hinkley said sometimes students have to “keep bothering them.”
“You kind of have to be persistent,” she said. “And when you think you’re being annoying… it’s just kind of what you have to do.”
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