Rental experience reveals important lessons

Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 5:22 PM CDT
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QUINCY (WGEM) - It can often be difficult for renters to find safe and affordable housing.

One Quincy man thought he had done just that, but when he finally got the keys to the house, he found something totally different.

Aaron Coffman said he and his fiancé spent months looking for a home that would allow the couple to regain custody of her children.

“When a landlord says, ‘I have a place that’s almost ready,’ you get excited,” Coffman said.

He said they toured the house at 1610 Ohio, but it was dark and dim.

“We really didn’t get a good idea of what the place really looked like, the condition of the walls and how clean it was,” Coffman said.

Still, they moved forward, paid more than $2,300 for a deposit and signed a lease. But after they got the keys to the house, what they found was far from safe: a roach infestation, rotting floor and black mold.

Coffman said he reached out to the landlord, but he was not happy with the response.

“He said, ‘Well I didn’t realize there was that much work that needed to get done, and my guys are behind,’” he said.

WGEM News reached out to the owner of the house this week, but he declined to comment.

That’s when Coffman reached out to the Safe and Livable Housing Committee, a group that aims to help protect renters and ensure living conditions in rental properties meet basic standards. They helped him file a complaint with the city of Quincy, and inspectors came out to the house Thursday.

Committee volunteer Lisa Wigoda said the city has a minimum housing complaint form that helps renters through the process.

“On the back of it, there is a checklist of common code violations. And there is responsibilities for the owner and responsibilities for the renter,” she said.

She said having the checklist before moving in can help. And, she said, it’s important to have a lease.

“If you don’t have a lease, you don’t really have very much power,” Wigoda said.

After the inspection -- which WGEM News was able to witness -- Coffman said the landlord refunded his deposit and released him from the lease.

For now, he is once again looking for a home.

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