No luck with landlords? You’re not the only one

Samantha Worgull

Housing horror stories are abound in the Kent area.

It’s a Thursday night. Swarms of students walk to houses throwing parties. Upon entering, they probably notice the junk all over the walls. Or maybe it’s the empty beer bottles sitting on the windowsill. Or maybe it’s the closet door the renters removed to make a makeshift beer pong table.

But what about those who don’t party and take care of their house?

It was Fall 2008, and students were starting to move back to school.

The previous semester, Megan McAlister and her roommate had found a house on Crain Street through LMI Realty that they fell in love with.

It was her sophomore year, and she couldn’t wait to get out of the dorms. The fashion merchandising major from New Jersey was not familiar with places to rent around here.

“When we moved in the following August, we were told the place would have all repairs done, and it would be cleaned,” McAlister said. “When we walked in on August 28, after our move-in date had been pushed back several times due to repairs, the house smelled like cat pee.”

This was just one thing on the list of problems with the rental unit. The carpets were noticeably dirty, there was a hole in the wall, stuff was left over from previous tenants and the medicine cabinet in the bathroom was broken.

“After pestering them for weeks, someone finally showed up and did the last amount of work,” McAlister said.

But then the toilet upstairs started to leak. The ceiling tiles in their house started to crumble and a brown liquid was dripping onto the kitchen floor. Finally, the tenants had had enough and called a plumber to fix the problem.

“They had to remove the section of ceiling tiles, install a new toilet and replace the old pipes,” McAlister said. “They told us that it was from years of damage and should have been fixed properly when the problem first arose.”

They never saw their security deposit again.

When David Ranucci moved out of his Lake Street apartment, part of a segmented house, in August 2008, he saw some of his security deposit, but not all of it.

Some of the things the senior justice studies major noticed were that he was being charged for things that weren’t done when he acquired the apartment from Buckeye Parks Management.

“When I first moved in, the place was filthy,” Ranucci said. “It was covered in spider webs and the keys didn’t work properly.”

This wasn’t the only problem he encountered. The drains were slow, they didn’t clean the sidewalks when they were icy and there was mold all over the house, which was later checked out by the health department and determined it was not black mold, he said.

Ranucci decided to take matters into his own hands after his lock to his apartment malfunctioned.

“Me and my son were stuck out in the cold for three hours that night,” Ranucci said. “I called Buckeye Parks, but they did nothing, so I had to call my own locksmith.”

That wasn’t the only time he did repairs on his own. One time, his drain was clogged and even after someone had come to “fix” it, the problem still existed.

“I finally decided to take care of the drain myself and took apart the drain,” Ranucci said. “I pulled out a huge clump of hair and soap, comparable to a small cat. Not a kitten; a small cat.”

After all these repairs Ranucci did himself, he was angry that he still had money deducted from his security deposit, he said.

Ranucci said he filed a lawsuit using Kent State Student Legal Services in February 2010 against Clarissa K. Wiener, a representative of Buckeye Parks Management, and won.

The judge hearing his case awarded him about $300, which was more than what he was missing from his security deposit, he said.

“I think it’s important that kids know there is help out there for these kinds of situations,” Ranucci said. “That is why we pay legal fees.”

Students often get taken advantage of because of the lack of knowledge in renting property. The best way students can avoid this is by documenting everything. Take pictures when moving in and be sure to photograph any incidents that may occur during your residency.

Contact Samantha Worgull at [email protected].