Off-campus housing delays leave frustrated UM students stuck in hotels

Photo taken during drive-by visit of the property. Photo credit: Gianna Rettew

Coming back to campus is never a stress-free experience, and for the large number of students who signed a lease with The Cloisters Miami, last-minute move-in delays, hotel living and shady communication has made for a frustrating beginning to the semester.

“It’s been a roller coaster,” said KT Palmer, a junior studying marine biology and ecology who will be moving into a townhome. “Like it’s frustrating, but I can’t even say I’m surprised.”

On August 13, would-be residents of The Cloisters, a student apartment and townhome complex developed by Landmark properties, were informed that their scheduled move-in was pushed back two weeks due to unforeseen delays obtaining required permits. With only one week until the first day of classes, students were sent to hotels to wait for their off-campus accommodations to be made ready for move-in.

“As soon as we received indications that units would not be ready as planned on August 18, we secured the best possible hotel accommodations near campus.” Landmark Properties wrote in a statement to The Miami Hurricane.

Four days later, an email reminder was sent listing the provisions The Cloisters would offer for its residents while they stayed at THesis, a luxury hotel 0.3 miles away from the Coral Gables campus. Hotel costs and parking were fully covered by the property, stipends for laundry and food costs were provided as well as a free shuttle to bus students to campus.

On August 27, students staying in the apartments were notified that their hotel stays would be extended another two weeks as their move-in date was further delayed. For townhome residents, the other housing option, move-in began on Sept. 2.

These delays came as a surprise to many signed residents, as throughout the summer multiple forms of communication led them to believe their units were completed.

“Throughout this whole process — which started after I did not receive on campus housing — my family and I were assured they were ahead of schedule, via talking to property managers and Instagram posts.” said Amanda Mohamad, a sophomore studying broadcast journalism and media management who will be moving into an apartment.

Although students were provided with stipends and transportation, the frustrations of living out of a hotel room quickly caught up with the reality of the beginning of a new semester.

“There’s lots of little things that kind of add up, there was no single thing that made it difficult,” Palmer said. “You can’t cook, you can’t store your food if you buy it. You can’t put your clothes away. You can’t really clean. You can’t do your laundry. ”

A move-in checklist, that has since been removed from the residents’ move-in portals, required rent to be paid before the scheduled move-in date. Email communication to residents confirmed that rent payments will be expected, even if construction delays persist.

While some students are fighting for their first month of rent back, others have given up.

“I’m going to try and get at least some of my money back at least for September,” Mohamad said. “I think the fact that I was even asked to pay for the month of August or September after this mess is offensive on several levels.”

Gianna Rettew, a junior studying journalism who will also be moving into an apartment, has been in a one-sided conversation with Cloisters, trying to get her rent money back for the duration of time she’s stayed at THesis.

“My parents are helping me out with my rent, and they have contacted Cloisters and said, you know if she’s not going to be living there, we would like our rent money back please,” Rettew said. “And they’ve said, well, we’ll talk to someone for you about that and have not gotten back to us.”

For Palmer, having been in conversation with roommates and other residents looking to get their money back, making the request sounds like a losing battle.

“I think the situation is frustrating, but I think it’s unrealistic to expect anybody to pay for me to be in the position that I’m in,” Palmer said. “At the end of it, everyone is losing, nobody wanted this to happen. I just don’t think it makes any sense to keep fighting something that I’m just not going to win.”