The fall semester usually consists of students considering renewing the lease on their current homes or looking for a different place to live, but the would-be residents of The View on Pavey Square face a separate question altogether:
Will the apartment building with which they signed a lease be ready to live in any time soon?
Emily Osborne, a third-year in physics, said she waited too long to look for an apartment, and by early January 2019, she did not have much of a choice. Pavey Square, located at 2259 N. High St., which is still under construction and managed by Hometeam Properties, was one of the last complexes with single-units left.
The closest she got to seeing what her new home was going to look like was when she was given a tour of The View on High at 2020 N. High St. She said she asked a Hometeam representative what would happen if the building was not built on time and was told the company would put the residents up in temporary units, but they were confident the complex would be finished in time.
“They were very optimistic that they weren’t gonna have to do anything. They were like, ‘Oh, yeah, we’re projected to be done by about April,’ or something,” Osborne said. “They were telling me, ‘Oh, we’ll definitely have it done. You can probably move in early, maybe even by early August.’”
Hometeam did not respond to Lantern requests for comment.
Eventually, as it was nearing the scheduled move-in date, Osborne said the property management company sent out an email stating that construction was not going to be completed in time and the company would contact them within the next business day with more information.
“We have received word from the developer that your apartment will not be completed by the time your lease starts,” the Aug. 2 email said. “This section of the building will continue to be constructed for multiple weeks into the lease.”
On Aug. 15, Osborne received an email from Hometeam with an update on her temporary housing location and move-in time frame. She said she had no role in choosing the location or actual house in which she would be living, and was placed in a studio apartment on East 14th Avenue.
“They were just like, ‘Here’s the contract we’ve signed,’” Osborne said. “They put everyone up, I assume. I literally haven’t met anyone else that lives [at Pavey Square]. So we didn’t get a community, and then we all chat. It’s just each individual person not knowing what’s happening.”
Getting in contact with the company was also an uphill battle Osborne said. She said it was hard to get in touch with anyone at the office, and no one followed up on any of the messages she left.
This period of silence from the company was very unnerving for Osborne, as she said she could not effectively look for other places to live, as everywhere in the arrangement she wanted was full.
“It was straight-up panic before the move, and you’re like, ‘I don’t fully know that I have a place to live, and all the people in charge of this seem — at best — overwhelmed,’” Osborne said. “But even then it’s like, ‘I don’t care that you’re overwhelmed because it isn’t going to help me.’”
Luckily for Osborne, she said she lived close enough that commuting was an option for her.
Even though Osborne was provided with a temporary apartment until Pavey Square was finished, things are much different than the luxury apartment complex in her lease, she said.
With Pavey Square, Osborne said she was guaranteed a parking spot, but the parking situation at her current apartment on East 14th Avenue is not exactly what she had expected.
In her current apartment building, Osborne said there are 26 apartments, but only four parking spaces in the back of the building. Even though she was provided free parking, she was not guaranteed a spot for her car.
The apartment itself is smaller and missing one of the main features she liked about her unit at Pavey Square, she said.
“The kitchen’s really small,” Osborne said. “Most of what I liked at Pavey Square was the kitchen because I cook a lot. In this space, there’s one range, very little counter space.”
Currently, Osborne said there has been no communication with Hometeam regarding the living situation, so she is living in her temporary unit indefinitely, while still on a lease for her apartment at Pavey Square.
Regarding rent, Osborne said she is paying $500 for her temporary unit compared with $1,750 for Pavey Square. Since she had already paid her first month’s rent at the original unit, Hometeam drew from the initial deposit for the temporary unit’s rent for August, September and October.
Osborne said she has not taken any legal action, as she does not believe the company has technically violated any portion of the lease. She also said people around her have mentioned that renters do not have a leg to stand on in these cases unless the company refuses upkeep and maintenance, which Hometeam is not in violation of.
Students, however, do have certain rights under the Ohio Landlord-Tenant Law, Molly Hegarty, managing director of Student Legal Services at Ohio State, said.
“There is a law in the Ohio Revised Code that specifically deals with the relationship between landlords and tenants,” Hegarty said. “When it comes down to a situation like this, we’ve got to look at the individual lease and then how that relates to what the law itself says.”
Hegarty urges students to get help in situations like this one or for other housing-related issues. She said that even though an outcome that appeases everyone is not guaranteed, having an attorney can ensure a more favorable result as opposed to a student doing it on their own.
SLS also provides resources such as a lease review, which allows students to have their agreement looked over before signing any document, Hegarty said.
This can be particularly helpful in a situation like Osborne’s, in which a student is signing a lease to a property that’s under construction.
“We’re trying to get them to think critically about the situation and to be educated consumers,” Hegarty said. “There can be a power imbalance with regards to the landlord-tenant relationship, and so part of the reason why we’re here is to even out that and to provide some education to people who don’t otherwise have the understanding of the process.”
Hegarty empathized with students who are going through issues like Osborne’s and said that since students already have so many academic and social responsibilities to take care of, concern about their living situation should not be something they face.
“You feel so overwhelmed. You’ve got so many balls in the air, and you’ve got so many things and responsibilities and hats you’re wearing that it feels like, ‘I just can’t even handle this. I’m just going to do whatever they say,’” Hegarty said.
November will mark almost three months since Osborne was supposed to have moved into her new apartment. With construction still underway and no end in sight, she said she has accepted her fate — at least for the foreseeable future.
“There’s literally no information on when it’ll be done,” she said. “I mean, at this point, I’m fully ready to accept that it’s not gonna be done this semester.”