Students feel pinch from landlords

Germaine Brooks said he believes the management of University Courtyard Apartments ripped him off.

The 21-year-old junior business administration student from Orlando lived in University Courtyard during the 2003-2004 school year.

Brooks said he enjoyed his time at UC and that it was relatively uneventful.

“It’s a good place to stay, I liked my apartment,” he said.

“I never had any problems with them. My big issue is what happened after I moved out.”

Former residents of University Courtyard are finding it hard to believe that they are being fined for damages that existed before they moved in.

Shortly after vacating his apartment at Courtyard last August, Brooks was hit with several clean up fees that added up to more than $100.

The bulk of the bill came from a carpet-cleaning fee that Brooks said he feels was unjustly levied.

“I would understand if it was actually my fault, but that carpet was already dirty when I first moved in.”

Bill Bowers, the property manager for University Courtyard said the apartment in question was formally inspected after Brooks moved out and his lease officially expired.

The results of this inspection showed that Brooks made very little, if any, effort to return the apartment to the condition that he had first rented it.

“(Brooks) had a check-in and checkout report which we give to all of our residents (before they move into the facility),” Bowers said.

A check-in and check-out report is a document that University Courtyard and many other apartment complexes use to assess damage done to a facility.

From that report, many complexes decide how much of a tenant’s security deposit is returned.

“(Brooks) completed the report in August (of 2003) and checked everything off as okay,” Bowers said.

“He told me that the carpet was dirty when he moved in, and we sent someone to clean the carpet shortly after he came in to complain.”

Brooks said that he was given the check-in/check-out form, but was rushed while filling out the paper work.

“The person that was in the office kept pushing me to hurry up with the little check sheet that they had given me, and that was before I even saw the apartment,” Brooks said.

Brooks isn’t the only student who said University Courtyard unfairly charged him cleaning fees.

Mike Bartlett, a senior, african american studies student from Tampa said he and his roommates were charged $200 for dirt stains on the living room floor of their apartment.

“The floor was noticeably un-kept when we first moved in,” said Bartlett.

Some residents of University Courtyard said that their dirty carpets were not addressed at all.

Falay Saye, a current resident of University Courtyard, said that she has been complaining about the condition of her floor since the day that she first moved into the building.

“The floors were disgusting,” said Saye, 21, a junior occupational therapy student from Fort Myers.

“We have complained at least five times the other semester (Fall 2004) about the really dirty stains that are all over the floor.”

Saye said that she has no plans of re-leasing with University Courtyard for the 2005-2006 school year.

“I will not be re-signing here because they’ve been very irresponsible with their tenants.” said Saye.

“I can’t speak for anyone else and their situation, but I know that I have talked to them about the carpet on various occasions and it’s not my responsibility.”

NCC Business Services is the collection agency University Courtyard uses to collect on its fines.

John Gray, National Sales Director with NCC said that in his experience with University Courtyard he has found them to be a very reputable franchise.

Gray would not divulge exact figures on the amount of fines that Courtyard has given out in the past. However, he said the complex was conservative in giving out fines.

Gray said that University Courtyard fines its post and current tenants far less often than the industry average.

Contact Anthony M. Moore at