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First Comes the Water, Then Comes the Mildew

Curbed Chicago Horror Stories are reader reports of real estate disasters, from bad roommates to infestations and from decorating disasters to shoddy construction. Got a cringe-worthy tale of your own? Send it to

"My first apartment in Chicago was a dumpy little studio in Rogers Park. I was in school and had just bought a MacBook Pro, and a few months after moving in I was up in the middle of the night writing a paper for a midterm, at probably like 3 am. It's pretty vivid still: I rested my hands on the keys and paused for a moment to think of a good word or something when a steady stream of brown water started spewing from the chandelier above my head, directly on the keyboard. Awesome. It took me a minute to confirm that this was really happening and wasn't the shitty dream it appeared to be. Not a dream. I threw the table out of the way, put a trashcan under the light fixture and ran upstairs to confront the upstairs neighbor. The door was unlocked, so I entered to find an overweight and confused-looking older woman in a green muumuu standing next to an overflowing toilet with water up to her ankles. Without saying anything, I pushed her aside and reached for the shut-off valve and turned the water off. The next day I discovered that Apple doesn't do anything for water damage, so I was out a $2,000 computer. And in the summer that place had the worst mold/mildew stench I've ever smelled."