The subletter from hell
Subletting an entire apartment can be nerve wracking, especially when it's being filled with college-aged boys. When Erin Fanella Hesch and her roommates left in the fall, she knew one of her three male subletters smoked and asked that he keep it contained. Taking that request to heart, he promptly disabled all the smoke and CO2 detectors in his room.
"He had physically taken them down and taken all the batteries out," Hesch says.
After a routine inspection, the landlord demanded they be fixed and replaced. Instead of complying, the subletters retaliated, claiming the alarms went off unnecessarily while he was cooking, despite his room being nowhere near any kitchen appliances.
After a quarter of landlord-subletter tension, Hesch was excited to return to campus and regain some normalcy. But her subletter had different plans. He refused to let her in the door, and when she finally bargained with him, she found the place impossibly messy.
It was one day past his lease, and "He still hadn't moved out. The place was trashed," Hesch says.
Hesch's roommate's dad was sent in to intimidate the subletter-turned-squatter into leaving. Although it worked, the subletter left a large mess as well as some emotional trauma.
Hesch soon got word that he had been speaking threateningly to one of her roommate's friends about the situation. He was saying things like, "‘I'm gonna fuck her up,' ‘Don't talk to her, she's a bitch,'" Hesch says.
After reflecting on the roller-coaster of a process, Hesch says, "I'm staying here this summer because I never want to deal with subletting again."
When Jen* subletted from UCLA students, she neglected to do proper research on her new housemates beforehand. "I didn't ask any important questions that I now know to ask. Like ‘Do you guys clean your house?'
To answer Jen's question: they did not.
After finding the bathroom dirty to the point of being unusable, Jen opted to shower only in the UCLA gym bathrooms, which she ultimately appreciated for getting her to the gym.
According to Jen, "They weren't evil people, they just weren't with reality."
A more alternative-leaning crowd, Jen's new roommates would throw "performance art parties" that lacked talent and nuance. One included a concrete mold of a drum as well as a guy who played a video of himself burying said drum set. "He stood with a microphone and talked over the music. There were probably 100 people there to watch that," she says.
After a tumultuous summer of her roommates introducing her to punk bands, pressuring her to do cocaine (she said no) and judging everyone they met based on their Myers Briggs personality results, Jen returned to campus with a host of stories and a "generally positive experience."
The secret garden
The first sign was the bill. What was usually a monthly electricity bill of $25 turned into $150 under Eva Rios's new subletter. What could they be doing? Throwing parties? Sure. Forty-eight hour-straight television and light-flickering parties? Maybe.
The mystery was only furthered when Rios arrived back on campus. "My roommate and I got there and had no idea how messy it was. The floors were sticky in the way where you have a harder time lifting up your feet."
But wait, a clue! "There was one of those little blue recycling bins just filled with dirt. Not even plants or anything just dirt. There was also a giant paint bucket filled with dirt," Rios says.
"There were shoe prints on the wall, but way high up," she adds.
*Editor's note: Name has been changed to protect students' identity.