College Towers’ residents claim violate housing laws


Sophomore accounting major Trevor Gorfido walks through the door to the seventh floor of College Towers on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. Gorfido walks up seven flights of stairs everyday because the elevators scarcely work in his building.

Payton Moore

A small piece of printed computer paper hangs on the front of a College Towers elevator door. “Out of Order,” it reads, and according to William Hannam, a professor in the Music department, it has read that way more or less for the last three years.

On College Towers’ website, the apartment prides itself on “the place to stay when amenities matter!” Instead, tenants claim the complex has anything but functionality for its residents.

College Towers provides two apartment complexes, building A and B. In both of these buildings, two elevators are provided to tenants. Under Ohio housing laws, these elevators are not required by law to be supplied to tenants. However, under Title 53, chapter 5321, Ohio realtors and landlords are required by law to keep their elevators in working condition if they provide one. 

Representatives from the city of Kent confirmed they have inspected the elevators, though College Towers’ contract would determine whether these broken elevators pose a legal issue.

Hannam moved into College Towers 20 years ago as a doctoral student. Hannam said one of the two elevators in each complex remains broken indefinitely, violating such housing laws and sending its tenants up the stairs to floors as high as seven.

For handicapped or even temporarily injured students, this poses a problem. According to Alexandria Patterson, assistant regional manager at College Towers, the reason the elevators do not work is due to the elevator “eyes.” 

The “eyes” act as a security measure in the elevator shaft, detecting if anything in the shaft falls or moves. If the eyes register movement, the elevator shuts down immediately. College Towers’ maintenance team follows procedure by resetting the elevators back to a functioning state. College Towers’ workers, Patterson said, are just as frustrated with the malfunctioning elevators as the tenants.

Patterson said all handicapped residents, that the staff is aware of, live in temporary housing in the first floor of the complexes. However, broken elevators pose a problem for those with temporary injuries. Patterson said the maintenance staff has actually carried students with temporary injuries up flights of stairs.

“I’ve had maintenance staff take (tenants) on their back and carry them down,” Patterson said. 

The unreliable elevators, Hannam said, are not only prohibiting him from living comfortably, but are making other tenants as infuriated with their living condition.

“I’ve seen graffiti that says, ‘College Towers sucks’ or people leaving their garbage at the elevator doors with notes on them saying ‘Fix the elevators and I’ll take my trash out,’” Hannam said.

Senior exercise science major James Singer listed several complaints he has filed while living at College Towers, including sewage backups, broken magnetic locks and insect infestations.

“I get what I pay for, but even at that, I feel like stuff should be taken care of. I feel like I should have found a better option,” Singer said. “I wouldn’t recommend anyone living here.” 

Hannam’s rent, at $535 monthly, is relatively cheap for the area. Apartment complexes like Province and Campus Pointe the offer rooms upwards of $600 to 800 a month. This price difference is what Hannam says is the reason students don’t want to cause a stir.

“I think College Towers understands most residents are here for one to two years. They don’t care, and when (tenants) leave, so what?” Hannam said. “There’s also a lot of international students here too, who won’t want to rock the boat.”

As sophomore accounting major Trevor Gorfido climbed the stairs with his friend, he grumbled, “They should get some escalators.”

Gorfido said the elevators never work for him, so he makes the climb to the seventh – and highest – floor every day. 

Gorfido moved into College Towers last August. Like others, he chose to live in College Towers because of the low price and proximity to campus. According to Gorfido, management always says they’ll fix the elevators, but he said it’s always temporary until they shut off.  

“I wish (management) didn’t treat college students poorly,” Gorfido said. “People here aren’t in a state financially where we can live in other places.”

Patterson said management assistance to any tenants is readily available 24 hours a day by phone call. The problem, Patterson said, is finding out what the root of the issue is with the elevators. And in a building as old as College Towers, this could take years. Replacing the elevators would cost College Towers over a million dollars due to the age of the building (nearly 50 years). According to staff, nearly every part in those elevators has been replaced to help remediate the problem.

“When our tenants have to take a book bag up and down the stairs, our maintenance staff has to carry their whole maintenance cart,” Patterson said.

Patterson said she hopes the tenants realize the staff at College Towers care more than they realize.

“If we didn’t care, we wouldn’t be writing the checks and spending the money we are to get the elevators to work correctly,” Patterson said.

Payton Moore is a senior reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].