Six-legged critters are landlord’s task

By Vickie Snow

She drags her feet down the hallway toward the comfort of her soft bed. Her mellow mood is destroyed as she finds a layer of bees instead of a blanket covering her bed. She runs to find her landlord but he’s doing business elsewhere. And, once again, it’s up to her to take care of something he should.

The beehive in one of the basement bedrooms was a deadly threat to her allergies, but to the landlord it was just one more thing he’d ignore fixing.

The bees weren’t the only pests in her home. After noticing bites on her legs from her knees down, she found out the carpet was infested with fleas. Lovely. Fleas and bees. And a beastly landlord.

No, we’re not tripping into fiction land today. Things like this and worse really happen because some landlords think they can get away with ripping off students. Maybe landlords are imbeciles everywhere, but it seems out of hand here.

Some of you may not be able to relate to dealing with landlords if you live in the luxury of a home or a dorm, but you probably know somebody who is not too thrilled with their living conditions.

We go to college with the idea that it will be heavenly to get away from our parents and live “on our own.” When it turns into living with flying, buzzing, crawling creatures (no, not your roommates), the dream fades into a nightmare.

The frustrations of studying for impossible exams and doing projects are enough without annoyances like dripping ceilings or flooding hallways.

Picture this. You wake up in time to munch down some corn flakes before heading to class. You’re happily reading the cereal box when something falls from the ceiling onto your hand. Your appetite is lost when you see the unwelcome breakfast guest is a nasty cockroach scurrying across the kitchen table.

Suddenly you feel like Little Miss Muffet and your friends are afraid to hang out at your place for fear of being surrounded by varmints. You could feed a dozen dragon lizards with as many roaches as you have sharing your living space. And what’s worse, the management doesn’t get rid of them for months.

Maybe your situation doesn’t involve pests. Some students have lived without heat or an oven for months. And others have mildew and mushrooms taking over their space.

It all boils down to one thing—don’t put up with it. You learn about paying bills and cooking by living in an apartment, but you also learn the art of complaining (if you aren’t a whiner already). But in such circumstances, the noise you make is justified.

There are places you can go to for help. NIU Legal Services, DeKalb Housing Authority and the county Health Department get paid to do things like inspecting apartments and advising students about their rights.

If you get your landlord cited for code violations, it might prompt him to clean up his act. If things don’t get done, there are always the options of going to court or stopping rent payments.

It’s best to seek legal advice and, why not, it’s free here. But the advice you shouldn’t follow, no matter how strong the feelings, is that of Eddie Murphy—”kill my landlord”—because you’d probably just get a more deranged landlord in his place.