Moldy showers, broken appliances and dirty units. That is what some new tenants arrived to when moving into their rooms at the University Flats Student Housing Apartments.
The University Flats first opened its doors back in 2014 under the ownership of Central Street Capital, a private investment management company based in Denver. In 2018, the company sold the apartment complex to Nelson Brothers Professional Real Estate LLC for $21.3 million.
The website for the University Flats offers prospective tenants beautiful pictures of the building and the rooms, as well as pictures of some of the amenities offered, but what was pictured was not exactly what tenants received.
“That wasn’t a lie. We did have all those things, but most of those things didn’t work,” said Hannah Atland, a resident who moved in mid-August.
After moving in June 2021, Madison Jenkins noticed little things in her apartment that were broken, such as her toilet seat not being attached to the toilet and the towel rod falling off with the slightest bit of pressure. After multiple times requesting the office to fix it, the toilet and towel rod have still not been fixed.
A flimsy towel rod wasn’t a concern for another resident, Angelina Ramirez. Ramirez, who moved in mid-August, said that when she moved in, her apartment hadn’t been cleaned, there were rusted pipes under the kitchen sink, a used litter box had been left in the bathroom and there was mold in the shower and in the kitchen.
The problems don’t end with the apartments. They extend to the amenities offered as well.
The University Flats offers high-speed Wi-Fi, free printing, a computer lab, a swimming pool, a gym and all utilities included in rent, including water, gas, Wi-Fi and trash, among other amenities. However, many of these perks can rarely be used.
The pool has been reportedly closed since the beginning of the summer because of the lack of a maintenance employee or team. The pool turned green from the lack of cleaning and was unable to be used.
The gym, which was closed because of COVID, has recently reopened, but, according to Emma Gollob, a two-year resident, it is rarely, if ever, cleaned.
One amenity that used to be included was cable in every unit, but this was discontinued roughly a year ago.
“The reason I was told to give was because we upgraded the Wi-Fi,” said Jesse Davis, a three-year resident of the University Flats and a former employee, “so we either had to charge more or cut cable. It’s not true. They upgraded the Wi-Fi, yeah, but it costs less than the old Wi-Fi costs.”
The other utilities that residents still have and continue to pay for are often shut off for prolonged periods of time with no communication from the University Flats.
The Wi-Fi was shut off for two days, and during this time, residents reported that they were not able to call the office. When trying to call, it said the line was disconnected. Sometimes, the trash will not be picked up for weeks at a time, and the water for some buildings was turned off unexpectedly.
Because of the lack of communication from the office, Jenkins’ mother called the water company to see why the water was shut off. They told her mother that it was because the University Flats was $11,000 in debt with the company.
Nelson Partners was not available to comment, and the University Flats declined to comment.
It seems as though not paying people is a common trend with Nelson Partners.
Gollob recounted a story of a time she went to visit her boyfriend, Davis, while he was working in the office. She had noticed a large stack of papers on the desk, and she asked Davis what they were for. Davis said they were six months’ worth of water bills.
The multiple times where the trash had not been picked up was also because Nelson Partners had not paid the bills.
“We, as residents, are suffering from the company’s incompetence,” Gollob said.
The University Flats also used to employ an unnamed cleaning company. Some residents testified that this company did a good job, but it quit working for Nelson Partners and the University Flats after never being paid.
“Our cleaning company, the woman who owns it, came in every day crying to me, telling me she can’t feed her kids, and her employees can’t feed their kids because we don’t pay them,” Davis said.
Davis stated that, during his time as leasing manager, he was never given a checkbook to pay at the property level. Anyone who needed to be paid was getting paid directly from the corporate office.
“Working in housing, you feel like a criminal,” Davis said about denying people money and lying to residents.
The problems with Nelson Partners don’t stop with the University Flats. Very similar issues can be seen across a lot of the other buildings owned by the company.
The Alpine Flats in Logan, Utah, houses students from Utah State University. Back in March, USU student Seth Parry had signed a contract with Alpine Flats for a one-bedroom apartment. In July, the office contacted him saying there were no more one-bedrooms available, and he had one day to decide if he wanted to switch to a two-bedroom. Since he had such short notice, he signed the second contract.
This kind of room overbooking is also seen at the University Flats. Jenkins has said that when she moved in, the office told her that there were no more three-bedrooms left. For two weeks, Jenkins and her roommate lived out of boxes in a two-bedroom apartment, waiting for the office to fix their mistake.
Another common occurrence is Nelson Partners advertising a new property as ready to live in when there is still a lot of construction that needs to be done.
In August, USU students had to frantically look for somewhere new to live after they found out they could not live at the new Nelson Partner location, the 800 Block apartments, because they were not done being built.
This situation also happened at the University Flats. Back in 2019, Davis was looking forward to moving into the newly built addition at the University Flats, but when he was ready to move in, the building was still all foundation. The addition wasn’t finished until about four months ago.
“I definitely don’t recommend anybody live in there or move in there because this company, at its core, is just rotten,” Gollob said.