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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas Wiertella April 30, 2024

Look before you lease

Living off campus is an opportunity that every college student should experience. It provides a glance into what the rest of your life could be like in regards to housing. You learn how to cook, clean, live with others and make adjustments in an unsupervised lifestyle.

With that in mind, it also provides a reality check in dealing with people and money. Many college landlords prey on the fact that students are somewhat limited financially. They don’t have the resources or time to properly fight against the inequalities that come with signing a year lease.

I want to make it known that my current landlord is totally reasonable, as was my first. My previous landlord, on the other hand, gave me enough material to write a book on the injustices of human behavior.

According to NMU Housing Serivces, 6,300 NMU students are considered commuters. A percentage of these students live at home with family, but the majority live in rental units where a lease is in effect. It’s wise to know what you’re getting into before taking on that responsibility.

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The aforementioned landlord lives in a nice area of Detroit and rarely visits Marquette. Not that distance makes you a bad rental owner, but the lack of care and knowledge of her rental unit definitely could have been avoided if she took the time to see the house more than once a year.

When we moved in, the house was still filled with trash from the last tenants and hadn’t been cleaned. There were two gaping holes in one of the walls, a part of the shower wall was busted and the bathroom was covered in mold.

When we first looked at the house, the then-current tenants warned us of the landlord’s shady behavior and the derelict condition of the property.

We didn’t think much of it. We wanted the house, and it seemed like a non-issue. Not heeding their advice was a costly mistake.

Initially, our landlord said she would pay us for the labor and supplies of stripping the bathroom of the mold and repainting it. We figured it was a fair deal because we would be living there all year.

She told us all of this via phone. Because it was not in writing, she was not legally obligated to follow through on our agreement.

After we took on that venture, she informed us that we would not be paid for the labor and instead told us to send her a copy of the supplies receipt, which had been thrown out by the time we were finally able to contact her.

We didn’t make a big deal over it; my roommates and I just wanted to do everything we could to get back our $365 deposit.

We replaced the missing tiles in the kitchen floor, bought smoke alarms for each room (four were missing when we moved in), fixed the holes in the wall and cleaned the entire house.

By this point, we felt like we improved the worth of the property. Anything less than full deposit compensation would have felt like a rip-off. Our landlord saw the house two days before we moved out and agreed that it looked great and even thanked us for painting the bathroom.

Everything seemed cool. My roommates and I were relieved that we would get our deposit back.

After weeks of missed calls and voicemails, our landlord answered and told us to send her a letter containing all of our new addresses.

I did this and two weeks later she sent each of us $153.50 back with a list of fees that weren’t mentioned during our face-to-face discussion.

She charged us with a $300 cleaning fee. Her only excuse was that dog hair had to be cleaned from under the fridge. Dog hair does not constitute such a fee.

After an argument, she agreed to send us the rest of our deposit but failed to follow through with her promise. I didn’t even get half of my deposit back.

Know the situation you’re getting into before signing a lease; no one wants to pay 13 months of rent on a 12-month lease.

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