Opinion

House of horrors, a Craigslist nightmare

October 4, 2018

House of horrors, a Craigslist nightmare

Looking for a place to live in San Francisco is a never-ending challenge for students, young professionals, families or anyone making under six figures. The websites are endless when looking for a room to rent, but Craigslist is always a go-to for most people and one of the original rental sites.

It’s a known fact that you can’t always trust pictures and descriptions, but for people across the state or country, it’s not always an option to go look in person.

Sometimes you have to take a chance and hope that the universe is working in your favor. I can tell you firsthand this is not always the case.

I know the horror of driving across the state with a car packed to the brim and walking into a house of horrors.

I’ve seen the show “Hoarders” on television and been in awe of what’s on the screen, but never seen it in person. I was left in the same kind of awe while walking through the house and up the stairs to the room I was about to move into.

My mom, who was nice enough to come up with me and help with the move, had the same look of disbelief.

We exchanged glances back and forth while being shown around. The pictures online had been strategically taken to only show the small corners that were clean enough to walk through. The kitchen showed one angle that had been cleared and didn’t have stacked trash and flies buzzing around.

The bedroom showed photos of a nice bed frame and “desk,” not the ten other pieces of broken down furniture and cobwebs streaming from wall to wall.

This being the weekend before classes started I wasn’t left with many other options but to immediately go to work and try to make the best of the situation. With two people we were able to scrub down the bedroom and bathroom in one weekend and make it look pretty good compared to how it started.

Unfortunately, living conditions only got worse as the weeks went on. More trash piled up on what was supposed to be a kitchen table. The puddles of dog urine around the hallways began to be more frequent and I began to realize that the little scratching noises that I heard while going in and out of the house and over my head were rats scurrying around.

The washer and dryer that was promised to be working still was not fixed. I began to be accused of stealing things that my landlord was unable to find because of the mess.

At first I felt bad for her upon moving in, and even thought there might be a way I could help. Everyone has rough patches and can use some assistance, and I have no right to judge anyone’s situation.

The problem is when you are a struggling student and your landlord is looking for reasons to say you owe them more money. Or they refuse to fix necessary appliances or plumbing unless you pay them.

This is in no way a pity party or rant. This is something that happens on a regular basis all over the city. I am lucky to even be able to have somewhere to live; a lot of students are struggling to even get that.

I am also able to move into somewhere with better living conditions, but this isn’t always the case. Young people are being taken advantage of left and right. The end of summer is a feeding frenzy for landlords looking to take advantage of students and make extra money off of people desperate for a place to live.

Several students have shared stories of kept security deposits, stolen items and poor living conditions.

There are a few resources for tenants dealing with housing issues in the city, such as the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco and the San Francisco Tenants Union.  

Unfortunately, these kinds of organizations can usually only step in once conditions are to a more extreme point. There needs to be a better screening system for rentals on the internet. Until there is, people all over the city will continue to fall victim to slum lords and having rats as roommates.