Students should expect more from new apartment complexes

Jan Ross Piedad

When I moved into The G apartments I was honestly just happy to have a place to call home. While other nearby complexes postponed opening for months, we were pushed back for only two weeks and were able to settle in before September. The Pointe on Rio, two streets away, started housing-displaced students at the Dobie Center and still won’t be ready until the new year because of delayed construction and city inspections. 

For the cell-block gray building on the corner of 18th and Guadalupe Street, obtaining the necessary permits through the City of Austin was a real setback. For the first week of the fall semester, residents were lodged in rooms at nearby hotels on the owner’s dime. Fees were prorated and a month’s worth of rent waived. All is well, right? Here are a few isolated incidents one wouldn’t expect: power tools whirring on the floor above at 7 a.m., units blacking out intermittently over the course of an evening and a garage gate that seems to have broken two weeks into use. 

There are other situations that can test a tenant’s patience, such as complications about locked garbage chutes. The “valet trash service” alternative tries to be systematic, but with temperate, poorly ventilated halls, leaving trash in the hallway is not the best option. Weeks’ worth of mail sat on hold at the post office, since a newly-implemented USPS policy held mail addressed to new student housing complexes. Now, instead of having personal bills and letters delivered directly to a designated lockbox, management must sort through envelopes and packages delivered from the post office, which students pick up during office hours. 

Daily operations run out of a four-bedroom apartment within the building, as the leasing office at street level remains to be finished. Admittedly, management tries its best at professionalism and good service for over 200 residents in 79 units, but Fairway Properties’ presence at The G is clearly short-staffed.

The ability to pay rent online is delayed until November; which is, at the very least, a small inconvenience. However, I recently received a notice of delinquent rent with additional late fees, even though I paid in person well before the October deadline. It turns out that the funds were applied to another tenant’s account, not my own. Human error, I was told; and the mistake was corrected. 

To be clear, I can’t fault the hardworking men and women behind all the physical and logistical labor on site. It seems the real issues lie with decisions made by the owner, who is clearly out of touch with the student population. (The owner’s other commission in the area, Longhorn Lux, was also delayed.)   

Housing close to campus costs a pretty penny, and it’s no wonder investors are jumping to build and lease apartments as quickly as possible. To developers, I say this: It’s about people’s livelihoods, not just the payout. Students come to UT for variety of reasons, often with limited resources and options. If a property is marketed as the best value or opportunity, then it better deliver. Some situations can’t be helped, but for the price tenants are paying, upwards of at least $750 a month, and on the promise of “luxury,” we can expect more.

Piedad is a journalism senior from San Antonio.