Ground water was slowly seeping in from somewhere beneath the cement floor. What was supposed to be the basement’s drain began to act more like a leaky faucet. The dark water kept rising; the smell of mildew tainted the air. Surely, this basement was not in proper condition for a resident to call this home. In fact, two roommates have each paid $500 dollars per month to live in this below-ground floor of their Eugene home.
For students living in the south university neighborhood, this story is a familiar one. Landlords in Eugene are beginning to gain a reputation for mistreating student tenants and ignoring common renters’ rights that are protected under Oregon law and the Eugene Rental Housing Code.
Shelby Goldstein, a 20-year-old junior at the University of Oregon, spent the entirety of last year living in a makeshift bedroom down in that porous basement. She and her three roommates tried desperately to have their houses’ problems addressed by the renting company that owned the house, as well as by their landlady. “I couldn’t believe how unprofessionally the company was run,” Goldstein said. “Our landlady was horrible at communicating and it took her an unbelievably long time to accomplish anything that was needed”
Among these problems that were long, or permanently, neglected: groundwater in the basement bedroom area, dangerous amounts of black mold growing on the bathroom walls, a non-functioning refrigerator and other faulty appliances, and the worst outdoor rat infestation that a local exterminator had ever seen. The renting company then forced each resident of the duplex to pay $500 for an exterminator.
Gabby Anthony, a 21-year-old senior at the University of Oregon, and her three roommates moved into Goldstein’s house after she had moved out. Anthony is an experienced renter, having lived in several different places during her four-year residency in Eugene. “Living within the Capri Apartments,” Gabby said when asked about if she had ever had a poor experience with near-campus housing. “The management was not well organized and I had many maintenance issues that took them weeks on end to fix, if they even fixed them at all.”
Anthony’s experience in the house, in stark contrast to Goldstein’s, was generally positive. “This is the first year that I have worked with a private landlord, and I highly prefer it to dealing with property management companies,” said Anthony. Although the house was sold from a company to a private landlord, problems still persist. A broken window remains patched by cardboard rather than being replaced, months after it was accidentally broken.
Anthony said to students looking to rent in the neighborhood, “they should be aware of who they are legally getting involved with and to make sure to read the fine print when committing to a lease agreement.”