Off-Campus Hazards

This weekend I’m moving my son back to college. He will be living off campus is an apartment for the first time and with three room mates. Then I started to think about all the potential hazards with off-campus housing and some of the pits these kids get into with landlords who could careless about their safety. Every year there is all ways breaking news of apartment fires & CO deaths and serious injuries that occur because of negligence. Reflecting back to my college days I lived in one of those pits just to make sure I had enough beer money at the end of the month… All joking aside, I think this may be a great NACHI article that can have a real impact in giving parents and college bound kids some safety guidance when search for their off-campus housing.

I posted the following on my blog. Honestly I did not put much though into it but I think this may be a great thought starter for your own blog and an opportunity for the NACHi writers.If anything I’m glad I had this discussion with my Son before we move him in this weekend.
For all of you that are moving your kids back to College in a few weeks I want to extend my congratulations for going deeper in the hole like me and a wish your kids much successful and safe year.

College Off-Campus Housing Safety Hazards
As summer winds down and we prepare to move our students back to college. There is a lot of things that need to be done for a smooth transition and it is very easy to get overwhelmed and side tracked. If your student is living off campus it is easy to loose site of the potential hazard of off campus housing. Here are few fire and safety hazards that have lead to serious injury or loss of life. Talk to your student about these hazards and others to ensure a safe and positive off campus living experience.

  1. No Smoke or CO detectors located in the main living areas and bedrooms or detectors that are inoperable.
  2. Over loading extension cords or outlet.
  3. Use of make shift mood light (scarf or similar material over lamp shades).
  4. Space heaters in confined spaces or near flammable items such as clothing and furniture.
  5. Using the oven for heating.
  6. Furnace not serviced by a licensed Heat and Cooling Contractor in the past year.

Before you move in, meet with property manager to go over the safety and maintenance records and check with the University Campus Residence Life Office to get information for safe off campus living.

For more safe Home Inspection information visit my Website or http://facebook/ .

That’s a great idea, John.

Rob London, our resident article writer, wrote something recently about landlords, but this idea focuses the topic even more about the potential problems and hazards, not to mention parental worries. Another of Rob’s recent articles about non-conforming bedrooms also comes to mind.

We’ll get on it, and we’ll contact you for co-authoring help! =D>

The city I do most of my inspections in has a population of about 350,000 and has 4 universities, 3 community college campuses and various other smaller private training schools. So you can see that we have a very large student population needing accomodations.

About 6-7 years ago, when my daughter was at a summer basketball camp at one of the institutions, I met the director of the camp who also held a position in student services. After a bit of discussion about what I did and what I was finding in illegal apartments being rented to students, he got quite excited about getting an inspection service that would be introduced to parents at some point…

The downside was that within 3 months, the guy was lured away by another institution to coach one of the country’s better women’s BB teams. His replacement in student services was not interested in HI’s for students.

Depends on who you talk to on any one particular day!!!

Very good reminder John. My son will be moving into an off campus apartment with 3 roomates next week. Since I’ll be helping him move, you know I’ll be “looking around”. :wink:

This is a follow-up to my start of this post. Yesterday I moved my youngest back to college and into his new apartment. I met the owner and did a walk through and could not help to make a list of all the items that needed to be repaired. I keep to myself that I inspect homes but after a while it became obvious. Hey, part of the move in requirement was to make a list of all the damages before move-in so that at the end of the lease I would not be responsible for those damages. Once I had that list in my hands, oh boy did I have fun…

I did find a couple things but over all I feel pretty good my son moved into a safe off-campus apartment. I found a vent pipe open in one of the bedroom closets (went through the closet to roof from apartment below) and yes it stunk. The owner said there always was a complaint of smell but could not find the problem… The pipe coupling was installed incorrectly; coupling was not long enough to overlap the pipe sections properly and pipe section was not secured to avoid movement from stored items. I recommend replacing the coupler, securing the pipe and boxing in the pipe section with access panel to prevent stored items from causing the disconnection.

Also found no smoke alarms, leaking dishwasher, no furnace service tag showing with last service date.

The owner did not seem to be annoyed with my thoroughness but he did not seem pleased either.

Today my son called and he said the owner was there this morning making some repairs and a heating/cooling company also showed up to check the furnace out and install smoke alarms too. The owner also said he was going have a plumber fix the vent pipe and he would box in the pipe. He is also planning to replace the dishwasher. I guess I keep the owner up all night thinking about the walk through.

I know I will now sleep better and feel good that his room mates will also benefit too. Next up… moving my oldest back to college in 3 weeks.

I think this type of article is a great idea. I like the tips you suggest, but I find it hard to actually get most landlords to corroborate. I am glad to hear that in your case that one actually did. I have found most are unwilling because of the costs associated with the repairs. When you are a student, the repairs that you can not see in your new apartment aren’t usually an issue because you don’t know they are there which is what the landlords think as well. Job well done John!

J. Lasserton
Sell your songs online

I inspected an off campus “college” property recently. A Real Estate company owned the place and did not give maintenance a high priority. Hazardous was a common term used in my report.
Disconnected water heater flues, open electrical junction boxes. Furnace was a complete mess, rusty, damaged , unserviced, filter…what filter… Garden hose for condensate drain on the coil… and on and on…
Propane in the basement next to water heaters…

Smoke detectors well the students remove them…probably smoking…

The college students / parents need to look, learn before moving in any place like that…