Two months since The Cloisters Miami was set to open, parents gathered outside their children’s incomplete units to voice complaints about the growing list of problems and inhospitable conditions on the property.
While some residents wait for repairs to be completed, others have moved into new apartments with hopes of breaking their lease.
Ongoing problems at the Cloisters including a gas leak and alleged mold sightings continue to fuel families’ and residents’ concerns about the habitability of the complex.
The residents of the four previously vacated units at the Cloisters were notified on Oct. 3 at 6 p.m. to extend their Airbnb or hotel accommodations to Oct. 10 because of the ongoing repairs to the first-floor vacated units.
Two parents, who requested to remain anonymous, expressed frustration as they have consistently been emailed with little notice or time to plan for the inconveniences. This notification was sent the night prior to their scheduled move-in.
On that morning, Gianna Rettew, a Cloisters resident in one of the vacated units, correctly anticipated a delay and began searching for a new Airbnb. Rettew is currently paying for a second Airbnb out-of-pocket in addition to her rent, as she is yet to receive reimbursement from the Cloisters.
As of this moment the residents are yet to be made aware of the extent of the problems being addressed in their units. They were told that workers would be present to fix the pipework in the first-floor units, but are unsure if any other issues reported are being addressed.
Darby Steineger, another resident from a vacated unit, has opted to move into a new apartment complex, instead of extending her Airbnb stay. She stated that she does not expect to get reimbursed for the cost of her stay as she is not returning to her unit. Her family has hired a lawyer to write a lease termination letter, but expect the Cloisters to reject the request considering the circumstances.
After parents visited the site on Oct. 7, torn up floors and broken windows have made them question when the true completion date will be. One parent specified that a member of the construction staff said that the expected completion date was set for Oct. 18.
The gas leak
On the evening of Oct. 4, a gas leak in a unit in building one of the Cloisters drew law enforcement to the property and required gas to be shut off until further notice.
“The fire department knocked on my door around 10:30 p.m. I looked through the peephole and saw two men not suited up in firefighter uniforms and they kept knocking so I only opened the door slightly,” Amanda Mohamed, a sophomore studying broadcast journalism and media management, said.
“They then explained what happened and I saw that their shirts said Miami FD. But to have two strange men knock on your door late at night when there are approximately 389,894 other things wrong with my apartment is extremely scary.”
Out of caution, the Cloisters shut off the gas in Building one, alerting residents the following day that it will remain off for two to three business days. As of the evening of Oct. 9, the gas remains shut off. Residents have expressed frustration over having been unable to use their gas stove and oven, and some are hesitant to use other appliances.
On the same day, an anonymous member in the Facebook group posted a photo of what looked like mold on their unit’s ceiling. The photo raised concern, causing parents to continue to question the habitability of the complex.
“I have not found any mold in our unit. I did have someone come out but won’t have those results until tomorrow,” Dina Russel, a resident’s parent, said. “I was taking precautions and wanted peace of mind with everything else going on in the complex, but everything else has been a complete nightmare.”
Jacqueline Salcines, a local attorney and UM School of Law alumnus, advised those with mold to write an 83.51 7-day letter to address the issue in writing.
Section 6a of the lease, the “mold disclosure,” signed by residents states that the Cloisters will not be held liable for mold damages.
“The landlord shall not be responsible for any injuries or damages to resident or any other person relating to mold caused, in whole or in part, by resident’s failure to clean and maintain his or her unit or the unit common areas as herein required, or to promptly notify landlord of conditions in need of repair or maintenance,” the lease reads.
Parents meet up to see units for themselves
During Family Weekend, parents of residents gathered at the Cloisters on Saturday morning to see the state of their children’s living facility for themselves.
The parents of the Facebook group, “The Cloisters Cluster,” gathered to speak to local media in hopes of bringing attention to the inconveniences and frustrating living conditions they have faced for the past few months.
“Every day it’s something else here and their excuses can only get them so far,” the parent of one resident said. “They shouldn’t be surprised and upset that families are taking legal action.”
The parents TMH spoke to requested to remain anonymous as most are pursuing or considering legal action.
Follow TMH’s ongoing coverage of the Cloisters here.
Jenny Jacoby contributed to the reporting of this article.