A mother said she’s been trying to find her daughter a place to live near the University of Connecticut, but it’s been a nightmare.
Pam Grieco of Berlin said she forked over hundreds of dollars to apply for a studio apartment at an off-campus housing complex. However, not apartments were available.
It’s been months and she still has not received her money back.
"They're ripping off the UConn college students,” Grieco said.
Last October, Grieco said her daughter Nicole submitted an application for the apartment at The Oaks on the Square in Storrs.
She wanted to live there for the fall semester to start her senior year.
Along with the application, she wrote a check for $310. Sixty went toward an application fee and $250 was for a service fee.
"She was pursuing off-campus housing for the first time,” Grieco said. “So she applied at The Oaks, submitted her application [for] opening day Oct. 31st."
However, months went by without any word from the complex.
Nicole, now studying abroad in Ireland, asked her mother to find out what happened.
Grieco went to the leasing office in Storrs on Feb. 1. Much to her surprise, she said she was told the studio apartments were no longer available.
“She said ‘oh no all the units are sold out’ and I said ‘when do I get my $310 deposit back’ and she said to me ‘you don't,’” Grieco said. “’It's non-refundable’ and then I said ‘you'll be hearing from me.’"
Grieco fought back. She said she wrote a letter to the Better Business Bureau as well as the Department of Consumer Protection.
She told them she was getting nowhere with getting her money back.
Katie Delany, community manager for The Oaks on the Square, responded to the BBB.
"I personally was not working with her but I do know that if someone applied for a specific unit type that we ran out of, they were given other options,” Delany wrote. “Pamela's daughter was offered an apartment. We currently still have apartments available for lease should she like one."
Grieco said that’s true. The offer was for a one, two or three bedroom apartment.
What was left out, however, was the vast difference in price between a studio and a one bedroom unit.
“When you're talking $1,190 versus $1,890 dollars for one month, I'm not in a position to pay $700 more a month for a one bedroom for a college student,” Grieco said.
With nowhere else to turn, Grieco called the I-Team.
The I-Team reached out to the property manager for The Oaks. A public relations coordinator said it all boiled down to a miscommunication.
The $60 application fee is nonrefundable because it’s to see whether or not the applicant is qualified.
However, the $250 service fee is refundable if a lease is not signed.
“We hold the $250 service fee until there are no more beds available as a convenience for the applicants in case a unit type they want opens up or they opt to live in a different unit type,” said Craig Wick, public relations coordinator. “Once we are full, that $250 fee will be refunded.”
The money arrived last week.
Grieco said she is pleased with that outcome.
She said the process has been unnecessarily frustrating and a waste of her time.
“I'm surprised that they would let it go on this long and that they just wouldn't give me the $250 and make me go away quite honestly,” she said.
Meanwhile, Nicole is still trying to figure out her housing situation for the fall semester.
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