Students living in the cluster of crowded houses and triple deckers that fill much of Boston University’s so-called student ghetto say landlords often ignore their complaints of mold, leaks, air quality and general disrepair in their homes and apartments because of their age.
When a fire alarm cleared out College of Communication junior Maria Cataldo’s Brookline apartment building after a neighbor’s kitchen caught fire Cataldo said her roommates called the building’s management multiple times that night and during the following week. The company never responded.
Cataldo said this type of situation has been an ongoing problem for college-aged residents in her area.
‘There has never been a speedy fix on anything,’ she said.
Cataldo said the management company promptly responds to complaints from her neighbors, who are not students, however.
‘They perceive us to be very na’iuml;ve,’ she said. ‘They think that we should just settle for the poor service they provide us, because we are students, and we’re young.’
Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences junior Lisa Yang said she and her roommates called their landlord throughout the summer to fix their apartment’s leaky refrigerator, but their complaints went ignored until mold appeared beneath the unit. Management fixed the floor and promised to purchase a new refrigerator, but it has yet to honor that promise, Yang said.
‘I definitely think if we were adults, they would have gotten back to us faster,’ she said. ‘They don’t think students will put up a fight or care. There is nothing we can do about it, because we are so busy, and we don’t have resources.’
‘I don’t know who else we would go to,’ she said.
In another case of landlord negligence, College of Engineering junior Matthew Figeroa said that health inspectors told him three of the four bedrooms in his apartment were uninhabitable because of poor air quality. He called the inspectors after several attempts to reach his landlord were met with no response.
‘Especially in Allston, landlords don’t expect students to have a high standard of living, so they just do the bare minimum,’ he said.
After the inspectors came, Figeroa said he, his roommates and his parents met with the landlord to express their frustrations.
‘He took us more seriously when my parents were at the meeting, but after they were gone, he didn’t do anything,’ Figeroa said.
Many landlords may not be as quick to respond to requests from student tenants, because younger tenants are known to cause problems with underage drinking and partying, Small Property Owners Association Executive Director Skip Schloming said.
‘I’ve heard that undergraduates can be very difficult to deal with,’ he said. ‘I get the impression that landlords may not be as rigorous in the maintenance of buildings that have students in them.’
Gregory Vasil, Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Boston Real Estate Boards, an organization that provides continuing education and professional consultation for property owners, said landlords are never instructed to treat students differently than other groups. Instead, he advised students to do their research when preparing to move off campus.
‘When you’re buying, you’ve got to make sure you’re getting a place that’s clean, that’s safe and that the landlord’s not going to let get completely run down,’ he said.