The Cloisters vacates units following city inspections

A street-side view of the Cloisters Miami apartments taken on Sept. 26, 2023. Photo credit: Jenny Jacoby

Following the Miami Hurricane’s coverage on the Cloisters Miami housing crisis.

The Cloisters Miami has vacated five units following inspections by the Miami-Dade County Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources and Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department.

Residents were called by Mayu Molina, the community manager, at 1 p.m. today to inform them they needed to vacate their units by tonight. They were given little information as to how long this would last or if they needed to remove their personal belongings from their units.

“I got a call today from the property manager saying that I have to vacate my unit because of problems with the plumbing and four other units are being vacated as well,” Darby Steininger, a Cloisters resident shared with TMH.

Steininger immediately called back multiple times to clarify the details but received no response until eventually deciding to go in person to the off-site leasing office.

Another resident, Gianna Rettew, was told she had to temporarily relocate while the apartment below hers was getting demolished. If she would like to return to the unit at any point she would have to communicate with construction workers. Rettew was told that they were expected to be able to return on Oct. 4, but is unsure if the management is being honest.

“We don’t trust anything that Landmark says,” Steininger said.

Steininger and Rettew were told they would be temporarily housed in THesis Hotel, where they both previously stayed, but pushed the Cloisters to accommodate AirBNB housing instead. At present they are paying out of pocket for the AirBNB with the understanding that this cost will be taken out of their rent or reimbursed by management.

“The health and safety of our residents is our top priority. We are addressing work orders as quickly as we are able and by level of priority. In instances that impact habitability that we cannot resolve immediately, we are providing alternate accommodations. We encourage residents to continue to reach out to us through the channels provided to address any ongoing or new concerns,” Landmark Properties said in a statement to TMH.

A street-side view of the Cloisters Miami apartments with construction outside taken on Sept. 26, 2023.
A street-side view of the Cloisters Miami apartments with construction outside taken on Sept. 26, 2023. Photo credit: Jenny Jacoby

Ongoing Updates

The results of the two inspections carried out on Sept. 26 and 27 have not yet been made available to TMH. However, TMH has been informed that an open-hydrant flush (to flush out any contaminated water) was performed and that the water results are pending laboratory analysis.

Miami-Dade Water and Sewer is only responsible to test the water dispatched to the property from the meter on the street, the public water access, not the water in individual apartments. This has prompted students to look into hiring private inspectors or doing at home water tests as they suspect their water has been contaminated with chlorine or sewage.

Allan Friedman reported that his child said her water “tasted foul” and that she was scared to wash her produce with it. He has since purchased an at-home water test and is waiting for it to be shipped.

While these developments were occurring, The Cloisters updated their website banner, previously reading that they had sold out, to an announcement that states “Immediate Move-Ins Available. Contact the Office for more information.” When TMH contacted the leasing office they stated they had one single-bedroom apartment available.

What is Landmark Properties?

Landmark Properties is a real estate firm that specializes in development, construction, management, investment and consulting with over $10 billion in assets under their management. The company prides itself in providing the “premiere” student housing in the nation and has won several awards from Student Housing Business magazine.

Landmark Properties acquired the Cloisters Miami in 2021 for a reported $23.3 million. The development was split into the renovation of preexisting condominiums, now the apartment-style units, and new construction of townhouses.

The company has developed properties nearby universities all over the nation, with several locations in Florida including at the University of Tampa, University of Florida and Florida State University. They are also familiar with the Miami area, having developed the popular UM student housing The Standard at Coral Gables in 2018.

However, according to Landmark’s Google review of 2.5 stars, tenants from South Carolina to Tennessee report complaints of poor management, poor craftsmanship and unprofessionalism.

Despite the issues at the Cloisters development, Landmark has continued to acquire and plan for properties throughout the nation, including a 28-story apartment complex near Temple University in Philadelphia, a 110-unit apartment near UC Berkeley and an 834 bed development in Knoxville, Tennessee.

TMH reached out to Landmark Properties headquarters in Athens, Georgia for additional comment but has not heard back.

To keep track of the events and testimonies of residents and parents who have signed leases with the Cloisters please follow the Hurricane’s continuous coverage.

Jenny Jacoby contributed to the reporting and writing of this story.