A House of Horrors Without an Exit

One Gopher’s off-campus housing story

College is a time for making buds, hanging out with those buds, and drinking Buds; all of this in the safety of your own home. This was what Andrew Norton was thinking prior to his junior year as he planned to move into his first ever off-campus house.

Illustrator: Natalie Klemond

After a pleasant experience subleasing a CPM apartment that summer, renting a five bed/three bath CPM house just east of Van Cleve Park seemed like a great idea. He admits that after touring the house it “wasn’t in the best of shape,” but was promised a professional cleaning and renovations prior to move-in.

When move-in day finally arrived, Norton and his four roommates arrived to a scene straight out of a “Saw” movie. Beer cans covered up a black-stained floor, graffiti lined the walls, and mold made the ceilings look like a Jackson Pollock piece. Of course, the roommates agreed that these conditions were unlivable and demanded that a cleaner be sent out. CPM agreed, but the cleaner wouldn’t be able to come for several days, which lead the roommates to four long days of cleaning, spending upwards of $1,500 in supplies and manual hours. After the cleaner arrived, she claimed the house was “uncleanable.”

Beer cans covered up a black stained floor, graffiti lined the walls, and mold made the ceilings look like a Jackson Pollock piece.

Norton was also forced to take the bedroom downstairs where he encountered “unlivable” conditions. The basement was not only filled with mold, but it also had a bug infestation that started with centipedes, which lead to mice, and finally rats “the size of footballs.” For the remainder of the three months they spent in the house, Norton ended up sleeping on an air mattress in the living room.

It took three months for the students to break the lease with CPM after what Norton described as being “a full time job,” which included involving the Minneapolis Health Department and the University of Minnesota Student Services.