Sunday 25 September 2016

Students up in arms as management company refuses to return €500 security deposits

DCU Students’ Union has received a number of complaints from students about the company

Amy Molloy

Published 01/09/2016 | 15:24

It has been a stressful and expensive time for our students and their parents Stock photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
It has been a stressful and expensive time for our students and their parents Stock photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

A property management company is refusing to return deposits of €500 to students despite having a list of tenants to fill the accommodation.

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Hazelwood Apartment Complex is located in Santry and acts as an unofficial student campus for DCU.

Students have been reporting numerous problems with Academy Walk Management and Lettings Limited, who manage up to 14 apartments in the complex.

A deposit of €500 is required to reserve an apartment for the college year but due to various reasons, a number of students have had to pull out of renting accommodation at Hazelwood.

Their deposits have subsequently been withheld by the management company, despite dozens of students being on a waiting list for a spot at the complex.

Elaine McGeary is one student who recently lost her deposit. “I got a spot in Hazelwood via Academy Walk Management, paid my deposit but I had to give up my spot for financial reasons and got digs through a relative instead. When my mam contacted Hazelwood to let them know and to try get the deposit back, we were told under no circumstances would it be returned,” she told Independent.ie.

Aside from deposit issues, students have complained on Facebook forums about staff coming into their rooms without warning, unfair fines being imposed and the general condition of the apartments not being up to standard.

One review of the complex on Google read: “Had to get PRTB involved. Radiator was broken in the kitchen, hole in the kitchen roof when we first moved in, virtually no insulation. Was always freezing in winter. Wi-Fi never worked. Place was filthy when we first moved in. Horrendous management, who seem to lack basic social skills and continually try to take advantage of students.”

Megan Hahessy Madigan also rented an apartment at the complex during her first year of college and had a terrible experience.

“My deposit of €500 was never returned at the end of the year because of a number of overpriced reasons. They told me that when I went my room had to be repainted as the walls were black with cigarette smoke which was not true; they also charged me €100 for a scratch on the table along with my roommates which apparently adds up to €500! I was also charged €100 on two other occasions for having my friend stay over which was not in the contract when I first arrived,” she said.

DCU Students’ Union has been trying to liaise with the company in an attempt to get the students deposits returned, but to no avail so far.

Cody Byrne, Vice President for Welfare and Equality has attempted to come to some agreement with the organisation but has so far been unsuccessful. He described his dealings with the company as “rude” and “uncooperative”.

“They don’t realise the affect it is having on families. The parents are working night and day to fund rent and deposits and what’s happening is totally unacceptable,” he said.

“There is a growing trend of these corporations taking over and not caring about the underdogs. Even if they have it on a piece of paper that the deposit is non-refundable, that still doesn’t make it right or fair.”

Academy Walk Management were contacted by Independent.ie but were unavailable for comment.

Harrington Property Management, a second company in charge of managing the complex, were invited to manage 62 apartments in June. They also manage Shanowen Hall - an off-campus complex located beside DCU.

Mike Harrington is director of the company and he told Independent.ie that they have a great reputation with students. “I have been asked to manage 62 of the Hazelwood apartments and if you go on the Shanowen website, you will see we have great reviews from students from the past 11 years.”

Irish students have been feeling the squeeze this year as rental costs have continued to soar; so much so many are unable to rent accommodation.

According to a survey carried out by the Irish League of Credit Unions, 65pc of Irish students will be living at home this year as they are unable to meet excessive rental costs.

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