More problems arise at Kennesaw off-campus apartment complex - CBS46 News

More problems arise at Kennesaw off-campus apartment complex

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(Source: WGCL) (Source: WGCL)
KENNESAW, GA (CBS46) -

One day after we showed you a Kennesaw apartment with apparent mold, CBS 46 is uncovering more problems at the Kennesaw complex that rents to students.

We went back to the same complex and talked with residents, and they said they’ve had to deal with more than just mold.

Students said it took management weeks to respond. The apartments are off of Kennesaw State University’s campus and are owned by Letter 9 Student Apartments, which has no affiliation with the school.


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KSU student complains of mold, water leaks in off-campus apartment
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Some students said they pay as much as $1,000 a month to live there. Between school, working and volunteering, they said they shouldn’t have to deal with those kinds of living conditions.

“Three unknown people came into our apartment and cut three giant holes into our roommates wall,” said Anna Belcastro.

Those men work maintenance for The Black. Belcastro said they told her roommate they were looking for a leak, but a month later the holes were still open. And along came the cockroaches.

“We started seeing cockroaches,” she said. “I got my neighbor to come over and kill a roach for me, and we actually started digging the insulation out of the drywall and there was black mold all over it, along with a roaches nest.”

Belcastro said the front office told her to spray bleach over the mold and they would eventually come fix it. It wasn’t until a few days after that when the holes were finally patched up.

“It’s very frustrating,” Gabrielle Turner said.

Turner said she was only living at The Blake for a few weeks when her ceiling started leaking.

“I called the emergency maintenance number and of course no one called me back,” she said. “No one answered.

Turner said she was eventually told the washer above her overflowed and if she gives it time, the ceiling will dry itself.

J.D. Ortega with No Mold Atlanta said that’s a health hazard.

“You have to bring in fans and a dehumidifier, and you have to dry out the surface,” he said. “As long as that surface is wet, it has the potential to grow mold.”

The Black then cut three holes in Turner’s ceiling, telling her the problem was fixed, but they didn’t patch up the holes for another week and a half. That’s when she threatened to not pay her rent.

“I absolutely think they are taking advantage of college students,” Turner said.

We check and Letter 9 owns four other student apartment complexes: one in Lexington, Kentucky, two in Indianapolis and another in Richmond, Virginia. Using Google Reviews as an unofficial guide, all of the complexes are ranked under three stars.

The reviews list complaints similar to the ones uncovered in our stories. We reached out to Letter 9’s attorney several times, but he has not gotten back to us on these issues. Letter 9 did provide the following statement last week when we worked on a different story pertaining to mold in their complex:

"The well-being and comfort of our residents is our top priority. As soon as this isolated issue was reported to management, every action was taken to correct the situation. After being informed of a small water leak, The Blake paid for the resident to stay in the hotel of her choice before relocating this individual resident into a four bedroom unit. The community also covered the moving costs, comped a month and a half rent and paid for the resident’s pet care fees.  

The impacted unit has since undergone repairs by an expert in water and mold issues, and precautionary renovations were completed to ensure the issue did not impact any surrounding units. Tests by outside experts, which were provided to your station, indicate that the residence is safe and free of any of the issues in question. 

As mentioned previously, extraordinary accommodations, many that are above and beyond industry standards, were provided to assist the affected resident. In lieu of the above accommodations, the resident was also offered the opportunity to terminate her lease without penalty, which she declined, citing that she enjoyed living in the community and was considering renewing her current lease.

Any implication that this situation was not taken seriously and promptly addressed by the community management team is simply untrue."

A look at other privately owned apartment complexes near Kennesaw State show the same as The Blake, below three star ratings. Man students said they feel that these large companies try to take advantage of them, assuming they won’t do anything about the problems or that they have a blank check from their parents to fix whatever problem exists. 

The Blake provided the following response:

The Blake is a community of more than 700 residents. We strive to ensure that every single resident completely enjoys their experience living at The Blake and perfection to us is that they never need to interact with our maintenance organization. But, buildings are not perfect, and when maintenance is required, we are committed to providing a swift and efficient response, usually on the same day.

Occasionally, such as in the specific situations addressed in this news story, we confront a maintenance issue that simply cannot be rectified immediately. Sometimes this is because the source of the problem needs to be determined. At other times, it’s because third-party vendors need to be engaged, parts need to be ordered, work needs to be scheduled, or specific steps need to be followed. Once in a while, things don’t get resolved as quickly as we would hope. Anyone who owns a home has experienced this first hand. In every such instance, we offer the affected resident our apologies (and where appropriate, rent credits or other accommodations, as in the case of Ms. Duckett). 

We are very sorry that the residents mentioned in this story had the experiences that they did.  That doesn’t mean that these situations were avoidable, mismanaged or rampant. On the contrary, resident satisfaction at The Blake is high, evidenced in part by a 96% occupancy rate and higher than industry average renewal rate. Currently, nearly 15 percent of our residents have already renewed for next year – 10 months in advance of the end of their lease.

Assessing resident satisfaction based solely on Google ratings is inaccurate and an unfair representation of our community. A look at ratings of our competitors, including those properties run by the largest student apartment operator in the country, will show that ratings are comparable across all student facilities in the area.  We think that the fact that we are fully-occupied at market leading rents tells a more accurate story.

The Blake is committed to continuing to work with our residents to provide the best living experience possible.

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