Lessons learned from off-campus housing gone wrong

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — “Huge problem our roof just caved in.”

That’s the text Chris Baldauf received from his son, a student at East Carolina University, at 3:48 a.m. March 22.

“When they had taken the dry wall off of the ceiling, when it had caved in and landed on my son’s bed, there was just black mold everywhere,” said Baldauf.

His son was in shock.

“Apparently this guy was going to slap up some sheet rock and some paint,” said Baldauf. “The kids didn’t know any different, but one of the parents was there. It was all in the rafters, all in the insulation, and the land lord from Pirate Places was going to let them move back in in two days.”

Pirate Places Properties leases out homes to ECU students throughout the grid next to campus.

Due to the conditions, the parents moved their students into a hotel.

“It’s horrible,” said Baldauf. “My kid has adapted, and I’m sure they probably could’ve done a little better in school this semester than they’re currently doing, but they’ve been uprooted.”

Baldauf lives in Maryland and says the distance from ECU made the experience even harder.

So what can parents and students do if they have an unexpected housing crisis?

That’s where the office of Campus Living comes in.

Brandy Daniels is the assistant director of housing operations.

“We want students and families to know there’s a resource,” said Daniels. “ECU is invested in making sure they have a resource that has nothing to gain by being honest about what students should be prepared for.”

Daniels said there are perks to paying tuition and fees.

“Every student that’s paying student fee dollars has access to free legal advice,” said Daniels. “Whenever students call us or maybe their parents call us and say this is the scenario, one of the first things we do is reach out to that attorney because he is a local practicing attorney.”

The director of housing operations at ECU, Aaron Lucier, said families make simple mistakes.

“We are often surprised that even when parents are involved in co-signing that a lease is largely unread until a moment of crisis,” Lucier said.

He said people often sign on the line before reading the lease.

“You can always take a day or so or a little bit more,” said Lucier. “They’ll hold your apartment for you typically. Read your lease and share it with your parents.”

Lucier said tenants shouldn’t be afraid to contact city code enforcement.

“I think sometimes tenants are under the illusions that if somebody comes out we’re going to be in trouble with the city,” said Lucier. “Well if the landlord isn’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing, really the land lord is going to be in trouble.”

He said it is important to remember your rights.

“The state has laws that protect the landlord and the tenant, but they lean a little toward the tenant side,” Lucier said. “The lease is written by a landlord and therefore will lean toward the landlord.”

Baldauf and his son say their experience is a lesson learned.

“I was there,” said Baldauf. “I saw deficiencies, but I just chalked it up as, hey, it’s a college house. Watching my son go through it, sure it made him stronger. He dealt with it and still succeeded in school, and it will learn him a lesson. He’ll know what to look for and what his rights are.”

9OYS reached out to the owner of Pirate Places Properties who didn’t want to go on camera.

He said the roof was under construction at the time of the storm and heavy rain caused the leak.

Per the family’s request, they have let the students out of their lease and returned their security deposits.

The owner also claimed there was no mold in the apartment and what the tenants saw was wet food from the water leaking.

If you would like more information on student housing and resources that are available, click here.

 

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