Renter beware: Student share their apartment horror stories

For many students, the transition from a residence hall to an apartment feels like a dream. No parents, no RAs and, for most, living in an apartment is their first opportunity to be on their own. However, for many students that dream can turn into a nightmare when flooding, pest infestations, broken amenities and poor, unresponsive, and even disrespectful management become commonplace.

Photo by Marrah Ste. Marie.

Cara Lawson and her three roommates moved into The Husk when it first opened in 2019. 

“Upon moving in we could tell everything was rushed,” Lawson shared in a message. The first thing they noticed was their door couldn’t shut all the way.  

“With four girls in an apartment, it’s not ideal for your protection to come from a bar stool,” Lawson said. 

Despite reporting the door immediately, it took The Husk’s maintenance team three weeks to fix. 

To add to her apartment disfunction, Lawson and her roommates immediately noticed mold growing in their apartment despite the water not being hooked up yet. The girls reported the mold at the same time as the door, but it took months for maintenance to respond to the request. 

When maintenance arrived at the apartment, their ‘fix’ was to wipe the mold from the ceiling, instead of finding the source. To Lawson, the source was clear.  

“The roof was causing mold! There was moisture within the walls…it quite literally looked like an upside-down mountain on our [ceiling].” Lawson shared that she used to have photos, but recently switched phones and lost them in the process. 

 Lawson and her roommates were not the only students with safety concerns in their apartment, and The Husk is not the only complex around WCU with issues. 

The Husk declined to interview due to company policy.

Photo by Marrah Ste. Marie.

Makenzie Atkinson, who lived in Bellamy apartments, was concerned about her and her roommates’ safety when the entry gate broke. 

According to leasing manager Lindsay Ferg, Bellamy immediately notifies all residents when the entry gate is broken via property-wide email. Atkinson and her roommates did not receive any such notification. 

“The gate was apparently broken for a while, but it took us reaching out to them for them to admit that it was broken and that they are trying to remedy the issue,” Atkinson shared. 

According to Atkinson the clubhouse security was also compromised. “When I moved in over the summer, the clubhouse was never locked because [the door was] apparently broken but there were no efforts to fix them.”  

According to Ferg, the clubhouse remains unlocked from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. while employees are working. When employees are out, the clubhouse is locked. If residents want to access the clubhouse while it’s locked, they have a key fob that can unlock the door. 

Atkinson also shared an instance where the clubhouse was broken into, and residents’ packages were stolen. Atkinson’s roommate was among the victims. 

According to Ferg, the Jackson County Police Department was notified after residents’ mail was noticed missing. “Jackson County had let us know if we made a police report on behalf of our residents then typically, they [could] get reimbursed, refunded or [get] replaced packages for anything that was misplaced or taken.”

Photo by Marrah Ste. Marie.

Atkinson’s roommate was never contacted by Bellamy. When she reached out to management about the mailroom being broken into, she was informed that a list of names was given to the sheriff. She was able to get a refund for her package from Amazon. 

Atkinson’s issues did not stop here. In November, she was told by management she would be evicted for her “attitude” when she was reporting issues. She and everyone in her unit were told they would not be allowed to renew their lease. 

Emma Baker and three roommates were living at University Suites when they noticed their dishwasher starting to deteriorate. 

According to Baker, when she and her roommates moved in, the dishwasher was broken, and the garbage disposal was filled with glass and cat hair from past residents. 

“They came out and fixed it but not before gaslighting me about repairs made before any of us lived there,” Baker wrote in a message. “When the guy came to fix the dishwasher/disposal he ended up breaking it more because he failed to attach one of the pieces in the bottom properly, so it melted as soon as we used it.” The dishwasher has since been fixed, however her kitchen is still not safe. “Currently only one eye on our stove works without catching fire.” 

Photo by Marrah Ste. Marie.

According to property manager Ginger Wade, if a resident is not satisfied with the repairs made by a maintenance team, they should submit another maintenance request.  

Baker’s nightmare didn’t end in the kitchen. According to Baker, the property manager stole nearly $200 by moving bills between accounts. When confronted by Baker, the property manager denied this. 

At The Everson, formerly known as Catamount Peaks, Jordan Petruk was almost evicted from her apartment of over three years due to an unexplained fee. 

“They charged some random fee to our account a few days after rent was due,” Petruk shared, “We did not receive a notification about the posted charge…they almost evicted us over $20.” 

The Everson would later violate its own lease by removing cable as an amenity, a month after Petruk had renewed. Petruk’s lease states The Everson would pay for cable/satellite. 

“I reached out many many many times and they always said they ‘couldn’t reimburse my rent’ for it but they would ‘talk to higher ups about a supplement replacement for it.’ They never provided anything and never reimbursed rent.” 

Petruk shared that because of the lease being broken by The Everson, then Catamount Peaks, she planned to take them to small claims court. However, after Catamount Peaks rebranded to The Everson, she was no longer able to go through with the case.  

“I also think [the rebranding] was an intentional, strategic move on their part,” she said. 

The Everson did not respond to an interview request. 

Makayla Deel, resident of 4214 West (which is owned and managed by The Summit) was told her apartment would offer communal laundry units since apartments did not have individual units.  

“These were considered an amenity that we were paying for (and we had to pay per load), yet my entire time there, every single one was broken,” they wrote in a message.  

The onsite laundry facility is an amenity offered on 4214’s website yet Deel’s only options were to purchase their own washer or use the laundromat in Cullowhee. 

The laundry was the least of Deel’s concerns upon moving in.  

“4214 had roaches on day one,” Deel shared. “When I contacted them, they suggested I clean up after myself better. I had just moved in that day,” they wrote. 

 Management was not any better for residents at The Summit. Office staff would often unexpectedly leave during posted hours with no indication of when they would return. This was frustrating for residents who ordered large packages because the only way they could receive them was through office staff.  

“I have had to leave packages in the office for almost a week because they were never there when I could pick [them] up,” a resident wishes to remain anonymous in fear management would target them shared. “Some people have medications and pet food delivered in the packages and need to access them during posted hours.” 

The Summit did not respond to an interview request. 

Marissa C. – who did not want her last name published for fear of being evicted – and her three roommates at University Suites came back from Christmas break 2022 only to find their apartment flooded after a pipe burst. Personal items were ruined in the aftermath.

Photo by Marrah Ste. Marie.

“Our belongings sat in water for over a week, and they did not replace the carpeting,” shared Marissa. They were not allowed back in the unit until the repairs were complete, but they still had to pay rent for that month. 

According to Ginger Wade, University Suites property manager, the apartment does not require renters’ insurance but highly recommend it for situations like the flooding in Marissa and her roommates’ apartment. 

“Our insurance covers our buildings, our contents inside the apartment. Any personal belongings of the tenant would be covered under their insurance,” Wade shared. 

“If they need a hotel – they have the choice of if they want to stay with a friend or get a hotel – they do still pay their rent. Again, their renter’s insurance ultimately would be the policy that would cover, if they’re displaced, that would cover their hotel,” Wade said. 

Marissa and her roommates also had issues with University Suites’ maintenance team.  

“I’ve dealt with maintenance gaslighting us into thinking my roommates and I were the cause of a flood in our apartment,” Marissa shared in a message. 

When a resident moves into an apartment they must sign a lease: an agreement between the resident and apartment managers that states what the apartment will provide and what is expected of the resident. When signing a lease, it is important to pay attention to what is against the rules of the apartment and the punishments for it, how much rent is, when it’s due and what forms of payment are acceptable, whether maintenance is provided and how to put in requests  and subleasing policies in case you cannot complete your lease for any reason. 

Residents are advised if they ever experience mistreatment to immediately report it to their apartment’s office when the issue arose and when it was reported and to keep documentation of issues and how or if they were resolved.  

“We can’t fix issues that aren’t reported,” said an apartment office staff who wished to remain unnamed because he did not want to represent the apartment. 

If you or someone you know feels taken advantage of or ignored in regard to apartments or any issue around campus, you are encouraged to reach out to The Western Carolinian by emailing westerncarolinian@wcu.edu or by calling our tip line; (828)227-2694.