After nearly four months of construction delays by the leasing company University Realty, about 70 Penn students were finally able to move into their new apartment building last month. However for many, moving in has not indicated the end of their housing woes.
While residents were originally told that they could move into their apartments at 4046 Chestnut on Aug. 15 last year, construction and electrical issues delayed the move-in seven times. University Realty, the leasing company, finally allowed them access to their units on Dec. 14.
During the delayed move-in period, the company reduced the rate for all residents from original rates of $800 - $1,000 to $650. All tenants will be charged the original rent specified in their leases starting this month.
In December, the company provided moving services to 64 displaced students living in temporary units at the Homewood Suites hotel located at 4109 Walnut St. or Vue32 located at 3201 Race St. Tenants who did not want to use their services were given a budget to hire third-party movers instead.
Despite being granted access to their apartments, moving in has continued to pose various challenges for tenants.
The elevators in the new building have not been working, which has forced many tenants living on the upper floors to manually move their furniture upstairs. An email sent to all tenants on Dec. 14 said the elevators would be ready “sometime next week.” Another email sent on Jan. 5, three weeks later, said the elevators would be “operational” within the next two weeks.
Wharton and Engineering junior Varun Jain said the delays on the elevators have further inconvenienced his move-in. Jain and his roommates moved in last month during finals week, which he said was not “ideal,” and they are still trying to furnish their apartment.
“Finals week definitely wasn’t an ideal time to move in because we wanted to use as much time as possible studying for our exams, but I was just relieved to finally move into my apartment,” he said.
University Realty Leasing Manager Brian Feller did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
A first-year Penn Dental student, who wished to remain anonymous to avoid retaliation from the leasing company, said he had only three days to make plans to move out of Vue32 and furnish his new apartment.
Other tenants including the Dental student, noted other maintenance issues with their apartment units, such as issues with heating and lighting. The student said maintenance workers left paint chips on his clothes and shoes while fixing his closet.
“I would recommend University Realty if the building was already completed,” the student said. “The apartment is nice, but they are so uncommunicative. Back in October, they just stopped replying to our calls and sending us regular updates.”
He described the company as “super unorganized” and said that he felt “disrespected” throughout the past semester.
On Jan. 4, University Realty management emailed residents informing them that they had opened leasing options for next year and that tenants had to sign up quickly if they wished to guarantee housing with the company the next year.
The company also wrote in the email that they realized it was “early” for residents to decide to sign again, but that they were “obligated by our corporate leasing management to offer our units to any potential resident who is interested.”
Jain said that although he will remain in the same unit next year to avoid moving again, he thought it was too soon to be asked to make the decision.
“I understand from a business perspective, but we’ve stuck with them through all of this and they didn’t even give us more time to think about it,” he said.
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