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Horror Story No. 2: A Hole in the Bathroom Floor

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This week, we'll hear firsthand reader accounts of terrifyingly bad rental experiences. On Thursday we'll open the polls for voting, and the winning awful story will move on to Curbed National for a chance to win a month of free rent. (Standard contests rules apply.) Didn't get to submit your horror story for the contest but still want to get it off your chest? Send it along to and we'll post it this week.

Horror Story No. 2: A Hole in the Bathroom Floor

I was living at 21st and Sansom in a one-bedroom apartment for $725/month, a deal that seemed to good to be true when I signed it and, in fact, most definitely turned out to be too good to be true.

The space was small and less than ideal for two people (I lived there with my boyfriend at the time), but the location was so great for the price. We had a living room and small bedroom on the first floor, and bathroom and kitchen on the basement level. There were all the expected hazards of living in an old city building's basement: Mice, cobwebs, ants ? but these were all worth putting up with for the cheap rent. I even forgave the time I was dying my hair in the bathroom and looked up to see the world's largest cockroach crawl out from our pantry, scale the wall and then disappear somewhere behind our refrigerator.

But then, our shower broke.

Our tiny bathroom could only host a stall shower (oh, how I missed baths the year we lived there!), and after about 10 months, it was impossible to take a shower without at least an inch of two of water coating the bathroom floor. The drain had simply stopped working. So I called the landlord and asked them to take care of things.

First, the landlord simply ignored my calls for about a week. We were renting from a pretty popular agency in Philly, and they kept taking my messages and then apparently disregarding them. After I left a handful of threatening messages left while sopping up our bathroom floor with mildewy towels, the landlord finally sent a plumber ? who somehow figured the issue was related to our toilet. So he removed the toilet and took it with him. And then he disappeared. For a week.

What was left instead of a toilet, you ask? Well, of course, it was a hole in the bathroom floor! This was pretty much OK for my boyfriend, who was able to somewhat happily and easily pee into the hole. But it was not so awesome for me. I located every public toilet within a five-block radius and did my best to power through the situation, all while harassing the landlord's offices at all hours of the day and night.

When the landlord finally called, she offered us a deal: She'd send the plumber back and fix the toilet. But only if we agreed to extend our lease by a year ? at a 5 percent increase. Um. No thanks.

Finally, I talked to a lawyer friend about breaking our lease. Which we did, before moving to 23rd and Spruce and paying way too much rent. But you know what? There was a full bath and I didn't have to ever consider pooping in a hole.