Students and local residents voice concerns about their housing off-campus

The+Pointe+at+SIU+sign+stands+outside+of+an+apartment+building+Feb.+12%2C+2022+at+the+Pointe+in+Carbondale%2C+Ill.+%0A

Dominique Martinez-Powell | @dmartinez_powell.photography

The Pointe at SIU sign stands outside of an apartment building Feb. 12, 2022 at the Pointe in Carbondale, Ill.

Some students move off-campus because the rent might be cheaper than living on campus. What they fail to realize is that the living conditions off-campus might be worse.

A Carbondale resident who graduated from Southern Illinois University (SIU) in 2014 said, for the last three years of staying at Home Rentals properties, they have seen an increasing disregard when it comes to the residents.

Members of these residentials communities have complained about the units being unbearable, and not livable. They have said they have seen bugs, old appliances, drain issues and more.

Advertisement

“Home rentals, overall I would say, they helped me in a starting point when I was really looking for somewhere to live,” they said. “After living here, I’ve discovered that there are things that take a long time to get done, like maintenance.”

Even when the resident contacted the city, there was no action taken by Home Rentals to improve the conditions.

“They just completely took a 360 into pure slumlords,” they said. “They rarely keep up their property. I have had to call the city on them multiple times, we went weeks without garbage pickup.”

Because the city was unresponsive, the resident had to call garbage services to address the overflow of trash. They also said, since there has been so much garbage piling up for so long, it caused an increase of bugs in their area.

“I had to call the garbage department, they told us Home Rentals allow their bills to remain so large for a certain amount of time in which they’re going to stop the garbage services. They said, “We no longer have Terminix services’… of course if you have garbage piled up, you’re going to have bugs that start to come.”

Residents of Home Rentals have increasingly complained about the maintenance. They said they start to feel unsafe when Home Rentals hires ‘dangerous’ people to come and fix their units.

“They hire any and everybody as far as maintenance, so you never know who is coming to your unit, if they’re sober or if they’re clean,” they said, “It’s almost to the point where you don’t want to call for maintenance.”

Advertisement

Robyn Ollison, a recent resident of Home Rentals, said she experienced the same problems.

“We have put a couple of requests for maintenance to come in and fix our washer and dryer, and they never came,” she said. “They came a month right before we were about to move out, and I put in the request right when I moved in in May 2021.”

Ollison said when maintenance claimed they were fixing something, it never was fixed. She said when reaching out to the property manager, she received no response until the last minute.

“They came to fix it but they left, they said they were going to come back and never came back,” she said. “We tried to contact the property manager, and [there] was just no response until we were ready to move out.”

Brylon Moore, another tenant at Home Rentals, who has lived there for more than a year, said he has had a broken bedroom window since before the snowstorm in the beginning of February. Moore said he had to keep his heat on high to keep his house warm.

Moore said Home Rentals allegedly paid people under the table to do upkeep and maintenance for the property.

“They are out here paying ‘tweakers’ to do their dirty work,” Moore said. “They hire meth heads off the street. My old roommate was one. His ‘tweaker’ homies used to come to my house. I saw them driving their truck. I [saw] them working and cleaning out apartments.”

Moore said Home Rentals did not complete a background check on him or his roommate and that he doubts they ran a pre-screening on the workers. He said all they asked him for was a security deposit and first and last month rent.

The marketing specialist at Home Rentals, Chase Cheatham, said Home Rentals does require pre-screening assessment before move-in.

“Our application process begins with our general application, as reasons for denial generally lie within previous evictions,” Cheatham said.

He said tenants relay their maintenance calls to their office and he passes the information to maintenance staff.

“If anything arises during their stay with us… They give us a call, and we relay that to our foremans and they distribute the work orders according to our maintenance staff,” he said.

The Pointe at SIU is popular for student housing, tenants only cover their own lease but they are shared apartments. They come in two or three bedrooms, with a private bathroom and shared living space. The Pointe also has a pool where tenants are allowed two guests, and a clubhouse with amenities.

Anaiyah Agee, a junior at SIU majoring in Communications, said, when living at the Pointe, she ran into many problems, specifically with the maintenance and the managers.

Agee said, when throwing a surprise party for her friend some confetti got into the hall, and they were threatened with a fine, while there was already trash that maintenance had left in the hall.

“Maintenance was horrible and they don’t get held liable by the managers,” she said. “The maintenance replaces furniture and leaves old furniture in [the] hallways. They had trash in the hallway and tried to fine us for my friend’s confetti.”

Agee said she believes the Pointe needs to focus more on the safety of the residents.

“Downstairs buildings are broken to the point where fobs aren’t needed,” she said. “They [maintenance] put in old appliances in the apartment and take a while to fulfill complaints.”

Agee said, when moving her friend in the Pointe this past semester, they noticed unlivable conditions as soon as they arrived.

“The apartment looked like it had never been cleaned,” she said. “We moved her in [and] it had roaches. We had to tell maintenance she needed to relocate, and she did.”

Tyvion Dove, first year law student at SIU and resident at the Pointe, said his maintenance request has yet to be resolved since October.

“I put in a maintenance request because my sink wasn’t letting the water down,” he said. “They did end up coming but they didn’t fix it.”

Dove said maintenance or building staff didn’t notify him before they came to his apartment.

“They notified me after they left, they never told me when they were coming though. Just personally I don’t like people in my space when I don’t know they [are] coming,” Dove said.

Anna Bailey, the accounts director at Pointe, said the maintenance is on-site with other 24 hour programs.

“We have maintenance on site, all a resident has to do is call the office here and hit the maintenance option,” she said. “We also have 24/7 security and 24/7 courtesy.”

Bailey said the Pointe accepts applicants all the time, and tries to do its best to accommodate everyone.

“We can accommodate someone that needs to move in immediately, and we use a roommate matching form to get the best combination of people living together.”

Lori Crenshaw Bryant, director of Student Legal Assistance, said she and her office give preventative legal education presentations, some discussing landlord and tenant issues.

She said she encourages students who are looking for a place to talk to tenants of apartment complexes, and ask questions about the area.

“Before you sign a lease, you make students aware that a lease is a binding contract, talk about when they start looking, encourage students to try and look at the exact unit and not a model unit,” Bryant said. “The landlord tries to show a model and it might not be what you want to live in.”

She said she motivates students to not waste time when looking for somewhere to live, you should try to start as soon as possible.

“I suggest students should start looking early, don’t sign but start looking,” Bryant said. “If you’re a quiet person, you go to a private neighborhood, you go there in the morning, the afternoon, and the evening. People might be at work in the morning so you come back in the evening and make sure the neighborhood is still how you like it at all hours of the day.”

SIU provides many resources for students looking for off-campus housing, visit the Legal Assistance website for more information on what to do. https://studentlegal.siu.edu/renterinformation/index.php

Staff reporter Kamaria Harmon can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @QuoteKamariaa. To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

Advertisement