We’ve all been in dumpy apartments — cabinets with no handles, peeling linoleum, a permanent smell of weed, stale beer and rotting garbage, beautiful early 20th-century single family homes arbitrarily partitioned into multiple college apartments. Then there are the move-in day horror stories – messes left from the previous tenants left uncleaned by landlords, Solo cups with moldy beer sitting in the basement, promises that “yeah, that’ll get taken care of by the time you guys move in,” unfulfilled. But it doesn’t have to be like this. A college apartment doesn’t have to be synonymous with a shithole that your mother wouldn’t set foot in. Being a landlord in downtown Burlington is easy— because demand is so high there is little incentive to provide great units. But property owners still have the same obligation to student renters as they do to anyone else. Landlords will take advantage of young renters, especially college students who are renting for the first time. Sure, there are landlords that are responsible and take great care of their properties, but there are also landlords who will do all they can to make the most profit from a property while putting as little time or money into it as possible. The solution? Hold your landlord accountable and don’t rent from owners who are unwilling to make basic changes to improve units. Follow up on repairs that were promised at the lease signing. Pick up an off campus housing guide from the Office of Student and Community relations, which highlights what you can legally demand from your landlord. If you have any questions, call their office at 656-1103. If students don’t demand that landlords maintain properties adequately, the quality of properties as a whole will continue to be poor. As much as students should be independent, a stern phone call from Ma or Pa to your landlord often produces remarkably fast results. Don’t move into a damaged property without assurances that problems will be addressed and repairs made in a timely fashion. Take pictures of the condition of the unit when you move in to avoid having your security deposit tapped into for damages you didn’t incur. Outdated or poorly functioning appliances are incredibly inefficient and will run up your utility bill. Implore your landlord to replace defective appliances immediately — it could end up saving you and your roommates hundreds of dollars. It would be worth your while to start looking at properties soon, so you have more options of properties and landlords, and aren’t left to choose in March between the place that has a plywood counter and the place that smells like cat piss and cigarettes. If college students in Burlington demand that landlords comply with their legal obligations and follow through on promises of repairs, the quality of off-campus housing for students will improve. If not, downtown Burlington will continue to be filled with sub-par, may-or-may-not-be-up-to-code properties that students will lament every year.