7 tips to prevent student apartment damage

Reported damages on BYU student’s housing in the last year.  (Graphic by Jessica Olsen)



Students keep some of their most prized possessions inside their apartments, not to mention everything they have to eat, sleep and study with. Unfortunately, all of this can be ruined within minutes when disasters strike.

BYU student Jessica Slater’s apartment flooded last semester.

“It was awful. Not only did my things get damaged, but I had no where to go,” Slater said. “I ended up living with a good friend and her husband for two weeks, had to move four more times during the semester and it took six months to get my deposit money back.”

Slater said an internal water line ruptured and flooded the apartments. Management wasn’t taking care of the building, Slater said.

“Get reviews of management before moving in,” Slater said. “It is your responsibility to make sure they take care of the building. I didn’t look for reviews, but if I would have, I could have avoided this.”

Listed below are seven tips from Utah Disaster Kleenup Business Manager Tony Wilde and Off – Campus Housing Manager Garry Briggs to help prevent water, fire and mold damage in off-campus housing.

  1. Abide by rules of the building
    Damage occurs the most when students aren’t abiding by the rules of the owners, according to Briggs. For example, when students used candles after they have been asked not to, fires have occurred.
  2. Check around the foundation of the home/apartment complex
    According to Wilde, springtime can cause a lot of damage with run-off from the snow. “It can cause lots of leaking and potential flooding into homes,” Wilde said. “Go around the house and make sure the exterior of the apartment isn’t damaged from the winter.”
  3. Rain gutters are cleaned and not overflowing
    Many rain gutters are full of debris from the snow plows in the winter. Spring rain combined with dirty rain gutters can result in overflowing water into a home’s foundation. Wilde suggested students should immediately report full rain gutters to apartment management.
  4. Report wet spots immediately
    Wet spots normally occur because of  breaking/cracking pipes inside the walls. Briggs strongly urged students to be aware of their surrounding walls and ceilings. If students find a wet spot, they should report it promptly to management. Don’t try to dry it out with fans because it may be internal.
  5. Shower with fan on or window cracked open to prevent mold
    Many off-campus housing units are older and more prone to mold. One of the best ways to prevent mold from growing is to allow escapes for any steam created in the house. “When you shower or bathe, make sure to always turn on the ceiling fan,” Briggs said. “If you don’t have this, then open windows just a crack to allow the steam to escape rather than being trapped.”
  6. Be aware of surroundings when using heat
    Fires occur the most when students are forgetful, according to Briggs. He said he has seen many fires happen at off-campus housing because students forgot about food on a stove, left hot irons on and burned candles unattended.
  7. Have a meeting with roommates to go over these safety tips
    “I suggest for students to have a tenant roommate meeting that talks about how you can prevent these types of occasions,” Briggs said. “Water, mold and fire damage won’t effect just a few people, but potentially everyone in the building.
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