Renting can be a fun, fulfilling, thrifty and uneventful enterprise. Young people especially can save a lot of money and make new friends courtesy of their rental situation. Then again, renting can also be a patience-testing and exhausting experience. Sometimes roommate personalities clash or landlords and tenants come to blows and let's face it, those stories are far more interesting. Have a crazy story about a nightmare tenant, awful landlord, screwed up roommate or unfortunate living space? Send those rental horror stories to our tipline! We'll be posting the best stories on Friday and until then, the Curbed DC contributors each have a story of our own to share. Do take a look!
TAKOMA— Group houses have a revolving door nature and the six bedroom house in Takoma that I called home for three and a half years was no different. It seemed like new people came in to interview for spots in the house roughly once every five or six months. The rent was pretty low and the metro station was two blocks away but the house was built in 1923 and had a litany of structural issues, so it took a specific brand of renter to overlook the leaning kitchen floor and the fact that there was only one electrical outlet in each room. A falling ceiling, however — that's impossible to overlook. One day when my roommate, Andrea, and I were showing the second floor of the house to two perspective roommates, a loud boom came from downstairs. We ran downstairs and saw that a huge chunk of the first floor kitchen ceiling had fallen onto the floor leaving a gaping hole and revealing a wealth of black mold. We couldn't even pretend to play that off. Shockingly, neither of them decided to move in.
— Valerie Paschall
COLLEGE PARK— When you are in college and graduate from dorm life, the norm is a group house. I lived in a house with a cast of eccentric characters for the last two years of my student life in College Park, MD and it is rife with stories but one in particular stands out. Like any group house people come and go, and while you might only stay there for a short amount of time, it's hard to fully grasp at the house's history until it rears its ugly head. Early one morning at around 6:00 a.m. our house was subject to a police raid. As any college student can tell you, mornings are the worst, and waking up before the alarm is unheard of, so when I answered the loud pounding of the door I was shocked to find the cops had come to search our place for someone who used to live in the house many moons previously. After going through each room for the better part of 45 minutest the cops left empty-handed but did critique each of our rooms for their disheveled nature. I'll never know where the lady and child they were looking for ended up but it was surely one of the most surreal moments in my renting life.
— Rohan Mahadevan
SILVER SPRING— Finding your first apartment as a real-live adult can be difficult, as you're usually broke and lack the experience to make the best decision. This was the case when I moved into a small basement apartment in Silver Spring last year.
The place itself included internet, furniture and all utilities for about $900 a month. It seemed like a great deal on paper, but the reality was very different. As soon as I moved in, I realized I was allergic to the entire basement (mold?), it was always freezing and my landlord refused to remove the family photos that adorned the walls and tables of what was now my living room. Every day, I was forced to sit and stare at pictures of her uncle, aunt, grandchildren and daughter but I dealt with it. Then one day she sent me a nasty text informing me that I needed to learn to turn the lights off or contribute to her electric bill that hadn't been paid in 5 months. Needless to say, I bid her adieu as quickly as possible, although sometimes I do wonder what happened to that electric bill.
— Danielle Cralle
LOGAN CIRCLE— A few years ago, I was living in Logan Circle with two friends in a nicely renovated rowhouse. We had a few fairly minor maintenance issues we'd report and the landlord was always completely unresponsive. We should have realized this was a bad omen of things to come — namely that when we moved out, the landlady withheld a few thousand dollars for cleaning, painting and maintenance issues. We argued the details with her over email for a few weeks until we realized that she had waited longer than the law allows to tell us about those charges, so we decided to fight it with the city. After dealing with the long and bureaucratic process for administrative hearings, we got far enough to show a group of officials records of our emails, demonstrating that she had not followed the rules and arguing that we shouldn't have to pay. They agreed with our arguments, but told us we were were in the wrong court and the deadline to dispute had passed, so we had to pay the full amount minus interest. The moral of the story: there are rules that can help you as a tenant, but they are pretty complicated.
— Andrew Wiseman