If you’ve ever taken the time to check out some apartment reviews on Google or Yelp or any other place where reviews live online, you’ll notice that college students have long had a few beefs with the college housing industry. But online reviews are unfulfilling. Too often they are experiences unique to one person, brought upon by a fractured relationship with the building they are leaving. It’s hard to trust one anonymous user review.
Strength is in numbers.
With that in mind, we surveyed college students across the country over the past couple of weeks to get some more feedback on the current state of college housing. One question we asked every student was, “What advice would you give your landlord?” After over 1,000 responses, we’ve seen a few common responses pop up time and time again.
1. Fix the Wi-Fi
This one may apply more to larger apartment complexes that include the price of internet service into the rent, rather than houses where students are paying internet bills on their own, but it was one of the most repeated responses we saw. The lifeblood of the average college student in 2016 is a reliable Wi-Fi signal. Without it, both their ability to work on schoolwork and a primary means of socialization is suddenly jeopardized.
2. Treat Students Like People (Because They Are Totally People)
Students expressed frustration in a variety of ways, but it always boiled down to the same few words: Respect, human, people, kind, care. A top piece of advice was simply that building managers or landlords should be sure to do a few little things to make themselves accessible and put students at ease. One suggested a small gift basket or greeting card on move-in day to kick things off on the right foot. Many students just wanted their calls to stop going unanswered during normal working hours.
Whether you’re a college student or a CEO with a fourth apartment on the side, everyone has some of the same basic interaction needs. Students wanted to feel like they are in good hands and respected by the person they’re with whom they are doing business. Many acknowledged that plenty of 18-23-year-olds aren’t the perfect tenants, but didn’t want other bad apples sabotaging their chance at having a productive relationship with a landlord.
3. Timely Fixes
A torn window screen. A broken refrigerator. A doorknob that’s come loose. Thousands of things can go wrong in a house or apartment. It happens to everyone, from students to home owners. The big difference? Home owners live in their own homes and are incentivized to waste no time fixing the torn screen that’s letting mosquitoes set up shop in the kitchen every night. Students are often ill-equipped to handle household repairs and, frankly, aren’t supposed to be responsible for them. It’s a tough challenge, maintaining living quarters that one does not live in, so certainly we can sympathize with landlords to an extent. But this is where respect and communication come back into play.
If a repair for some reason absolutely, positively, cannot be done quickly, most students seem as if they would be sufficed with a phone call that explains the situation and assures a fix will be coming at the soonest possible hour. Landlords or building managers who ignore the problem or fail to show up when they say they are going to show up are what really drive students to their limits.
How close to the brink? Well, many students used all caps when describing their frustration about having to wait excessively long to get repairs fixed or failing to hear back about problems they’ve called in. THAT MEANS THEY MEANT BUSINESS.