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Living in a terrible house or apartment is a rite of passage. Some people do it in college, either with friends or their Greek brothers and sisters. Some people do it directly after college, because finding employment escapes them like finding all their shit after a night takes a turn for the blackout. In every case, terrible rental housing is in a class of its own when it comes to horror. M. Night Shyamalan couldn’t make up a plot more terrifying than the bathroom of a house inhabited by six postgrad guys or girls of questionable hygiene and limited responsibility. There are many, many ways to tell that the place you’re renting is in worse condition than your digestive system after a five-day Chipotle bender. Usually, these are unique to each room in the house, but some are just generally awful and pervade the entire domicile like a really disgusting poltergeist.
In a rental that embodies the deepest levels of hell for someone with neat freak tendencies, the first and most noticeable issue with the house is dirt and grime. A rental that has been neglected by a landlord trying to be a slumlord millionaire will have enough collected grease, grime, and filth caked on the walls that you could use it to cook bacon on Saturday morning. If you’re anything like anyone I lived with in my old place, you probably have come home and done just that after a rough Friday night. Beyond the thick coating of definite health hazards, your walls and floors probably also have enough holes in them for polite company (not that you ever have that) would assume you have giant, man-sized wall rats putting holes in them, kind of like those old “Tom and Jerry” episodes where Jerry turns into a giant mouse monster and breaks through all the walls. The sad truth though is that it’s nothing more than you and your housemates giving the house the exact amount of respect your landlord is giving you and your wallet.
Trash may pile up in the house for one reason or another. Maybe no one takes the trash out, or maybe doing so is actively taking your life into your own hands because the neighborhood you live in is comparable to an active Somalian war zone. Your bathrooms, if you can call them that, are nearly unusable for bathing. No one has seen the once-shiny white veneer of your shower or tub since Harriet Tubman was still alive and running the Underground Railroad. Your toilets, seemingly leeching grime from the sewers below your house, are an adventure of their own. Sitting on them, with their questionable, rotten floor supports, is much like climbing into a fighter jet simulator, except you’re piloting a toilet and trying not to flip it over in a way that sends you crashing into the living room below.
Utilities in your house are probably not all that well used. Your appliances, when they work, are capable of killing a man at 10 paces based on any number of malfunctions, from failed motors to gaping holes exposing their circuitry. Your kitchen, laundry room, and bathrooms are all “Home Alone” death traps waiting to happen, except anyone who gets caught in one probably won’t end up with a funny haircut or some black face paint. What you pay for your electrical and water bills could probably feed a small, American family for an entire year thanks to extra waste from bad wiring and leaky pipes.
The house develops a character, but unlike the character of most normal houses, where real estate agents describe them as “quaint,” “cozy,” or “rustic.” Your house is “mean,” “lean,” and “likely to inspire future horror novels.” You are fairly certain your landlord’s last attempt to sell the place ended with the furnace eating the real estate agent. As a result, your disrespect for your house borders on the insane. Knives and darts are thrown at walls. Paint parties are thrown. Everything capable of being broken without destroying the house’s very structure is wrecked with extreme prejudice. If you’re the unlucky soul to move in after this phase has occurred, the place you call home will be so bad that most reasonable people would assume it was either condemned or inhabited by a pack of rabid dogs and meth-addled hobos.
If the above describes your home, do yourself a favor and move. The “valuable life lessons” are not worth potentially falling through the floor, living with roaches, and getting electrocuted by the stove in your kitchen that is only being held together by a single, badly stripped bolt. Just spring for the extra $200 a month and live somewhere that isn’t a crack den.