A slumlord is typically defined by several key factors, none of which cast him in a favorable or ethical light. The average slumlord owns one or more houses, apartments, apartment complexes, or duplexes that are in a state of horrid disrepair. These accommodations are rented or leased by the slumlord to those who cannot afford a home that meets minimum standards of livability, usually at exorbitant prices. Often, the slumlord places no restrictions upon the number of people living in one of his rental properties, and does little or nothing to repair problems that might occur with electricity, plumbing, sewage, structural failings, or vermin infestation.
Simply as a matter of statistics — the more people there are in any given area, the greater the opportunity for rental — most slumlords own properties in large, urban centers. The rundown apartment building is the hallmark of the slumlord, and include places where such basics as heat and water are considered a luxury. Further, the buildings owned by slumlords tend to be filthy. A person knows he is living in slum housing if he feels the need to wipe his feet after leaving the building.
The greatest numbers of slum properties are found in blighted, poverty-stricken regions and inner cities that have fallen into decay. Conditions rarely improve for the residents of these slum properties, since there is a prevalent fear that reporting a slumlord to city officials will result in eviction, harassment, and no improvement in living conditions. It is a case of some sort of roof over one’s head being viewed as better than no roof at all. Slumlords often rent their ramshackle apartments and homes to illegal aliens. They know that these renters will not report despicable conditions, as such would put them at risk for identification, incarceration, and possible deportation.
Slum properties, however, are not solely found in cities. They are frequently a staple in college towns, where slumlords rent to students on extremely tight budgets. Though the living environment is still unacceptable, students often tolerate their sub-standard residences in the knowledge that they are enduring a short-term scenario. This is in contrast to slum dwellers in large cities, who might be forced to reside in heinous conditions for the entirety of their lives.