Landlords or Slumlords?

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Slumlord: an absentee landlord who does whatever they can to minimize spending for maintenance on properties.

Synonym: Henniker landlords.

Recently, I moved off campus. This change has been one of the best experiences ever. I get to cook my own meals, have my own room, and not feel the crowded pressure of dorm life. However, the off-campus housing options in Henniker are very slim. Of these slim choices, tenants are presented with molding pipes, walls with fist-sized holes, and ceilings and floors that seem as if they are ready to cave in at any moment.

There are two main landlords in Henniker who house a majority of the off-campus NEC students. Sadly, they have very little regard for the safety and health of their tenants. For example, most buildings were painted many years go with lead paint (which can be expected from buildings from the 1800 to 1900’s), which poses a serious health risk to tenants. The floors in these buildings appear to be in their original condition, as they bend and bow when someone jumps or even just stands on them. The exterior of many of these rented out buildings are in rough shape with visibly old siding and chipping paint.

However, when speaking to landlords about these health, safety, and appearance problems, tenants aren’t taken seriously. Landlords believe that they can get away with doing the bare minimum since a majority of those living in these apartments are college students. Young adults aged 18-23 occupy these spaces and have little knowledge of their rights as tenants and even the laws that their landlords must uphold, and landlords take advantage of that. The only time tenants are taken seriously is when parents involve themselves in the situation.

A pipe burst in my apartment causing a room in my house to flood and practically destroy two rooms in the apartment below us. The flood produced large puddles of brown, rusty, water throughout the place. We immediately called our landlord, and he told us that we lacked common sense and we were to blame for the pipe burst. He came to the apartment, looked around, put a few dryers in, and told us he was leaving to go home to Boston.

This is the second time a flood has happened in this room and no repairs were made the previous time, leaving us to believe that mold had been growing within the flooded walls for the past year.

The only way to get our landlord to take this issue seriously was getting parents involved. Only after our parents collectively threatened to take legal action against him, did he tear down the wall and replace the wet, molding, insulation inside.

Tenants can expect to pay upward of $600 per month on a yearly lease. However, based on the condition of the apartments here in town, one would assume that rent would be much lower. But, since the need for off-campus housing is so high, the landlords in the area drive up the prices, and students who wish to live off campus have no other choice but to pay it. It’s either that, or they are stuck in a 10 x 10 dorm room for their time spent at NEC.

While no student wants to spend four years in a crowded college dorm, it might just be their best bet if they want to steer clear of incompetent landlords, moldy pipes, and insane monthly rent.

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