The apartment smells. A fridge stands alone in the middle of the kitchen. Slimy brown larvae grow all over the inside of the freezer. The shower door leans against the bedroom wall, 10 feet from the tub. The dishwasher leaks, and dirty old pans fill the beaten-down oven. I find uncovered outlets, broken locks, a Scotch-taped thermostat, holes in the walls and a general layer of dirt all over the apartment. I wish I could tell you this was a description of a foreclosed property on an HGTV show and not the apartment I moved into on Aug. 15. Unfortunately, wishes don’t always come true.
I came into my StuHo-managed apartment to find every inch dirty. It was a construction zone, with broken, uneven counters, and every single appliance in terrible condition. Furious, I drove to StuHo’s offices, where I was immediately told that I was overreacting. I requested a refund on our security deposit ($3600) and a prorated rent because the apartment was nowhere near working condition when we moved in. I was told my requests were obscene.
Things only got worse. Our toilet was leaky, our shower flooded, and StuHo hired an incompetent contractor to re-glaze the tub — a process that left such an awful smell in the apartment that my roommate and I moved into a hotel for the night. My roommate had an allergic reaction, most likely to methylene chloride, which is the most common chemical in this procedure — a substance as pleasant as it sounds. Surely, I thought, a horrible misunderstanding; USC vouches for StuHo and would never guide members of the Trojan Family down a bad path. Again, not true. Over the next few days, StuHo proved its only real skill to be negligent mismanagement. The apartment next door confirmed an infestation of cockroaches, and our other neighbor’s apartment flooded and had no access to hot water.
My roommate, who lived in the Shrine Collection before it was purchased by StuHo, had numerous days without power or water, all while living as one of two tenants in an operational and dangerous construction zone. He also had to deal with rats scurrying through the walls, but that’s small enough to forget about, right?
How can StuHo do this? I’d say it’s what they do for a living. They charge USC students insane amounts of money to live near campus, and they cut every corner along the way to increase their profit. StuHo’s management makes used-car salesmen look like the patron saints of commerce.
But companies are bad. That happens. We will figure out the proper way to handle their violation of the lease. What hurts me the most is that we were guided by USC. StuHo may claim not to be associated with the University of Southern California, but they still have flyers all over campus and joint merchandise (featuring trademarked USC logos) all over their leasing office.
We are all young people fighting our way through college. Not all of us have infinite resources, and housing can add insane amounts of money to our bills. I plead for USC to help stop this from happening to their students. I request that USC publically disavow StuHo and sever all ties with them. USC housing is limited, and off-campus housing is an eventuality. At the very least, USC could start an advocacy group so that we don’t have to blindly negotiate with blatantly negligent management companies who carry out negligent and possibly criminal policies.
USC can be forgiven. Past transgressions don’t have to breed future ones. These companies cannot exist without you. Help USC students have a voice — there are a lot of us, and most don’t have the time or energy to constantly argue for their basic tenant’s rights.