Incoming residents of The One Ann Arbor, a new, student-oriented luxury housing complex, are calling for 50% off rent and free parking after construction delays pushed their move-in dates up to weeks behind what was promised in their leases.
Approximately 175 residents, many of whom are University of Michigan students, signed onto an open letter sent to The One management on Monday. The letter writers demanded the return of a $275 “no-hassle” fee and a new utility management system, in addition to 50% off rent and free parking for the entirety of the lease.
The One Ann Arbor, which charges between $945 and $1805 a month per tenant, has been under construction for the past year with the intention of opening for the 2020-2021 school year.
“We have been lied to, misled, manipulated, and treated inhumanely,” the tenants wrote in the letter, which was obtained by The Michigan Daily.
The One began publicizing itself to students during the 2019-2020 school year, when they stationed employees at tables around campus and offered students gifts like free smoothies to garner interest in the housing complex.
Using phrases like “you’ve never lived like this!”, the company advertised itself as a luxury alternative to other off-campus housing. The complex also hired ambassadors, many of whom were University students, to promote The One on their social media platforms.
The letter writers said they are frustrated with the delays in construction and safety certifications on their townhouses, arguing they signed leases months ago with the expectation that the move-in date would be honored.
Many future tenants were notified Aug. 19 — just days before the expected move-in date of Aug. 24 — that their housing was not ready, according to emails from The One management reviewed by The Daily.
Tenants were given three options: receive temporary housing from The One in addition to $50 per day; arrange their own housing and receive $100 per day; or terminate their leases.
Trinitas Ventures, the Indiana-based parent company of The One, wrote in a statement to The Daily that they are “deeply disappointed” by the occupancy delays and sympathize with residents and their parents.
“We are parents, too,” the statement read. “We are doing everything in our power to provide solutions for our residents to minimize the impact on the start of their school year. We are offering hotel rooms, daily stipends, rent prorations and rent waivers as well as increased shuttle service during the temporary hotel stays—and ultimately, if that is insufficient, the option to terminate the lease. For all of those that stick with us, we look forward to serving them well.”
In the letter, the tenants said they were caught off guard by the last-minute change after being repeatedly reassured that the complex would be ready on time. The tenants also wrote that these delays upended expensive travel arrangements, making the already stressful experience of moving even worse.
“These actions are inexcusable,” the tenants wrote. “An unforeseen delay is one thing; a complete and utter failure to communicate with the residents, or show them the simple respect of giving them what they paid for, is malicious and intentional.”
The letter states The One management reportedly encouraged tenants to secure their own housing or “stay with a friend,” which they found irresponsible given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. They also felt frustrated after being told “to pack less” when they asked for storage units to store their belongings.
The tenants said the hotels designated by The One as temporary housing until they can move in are in Canton and Livonia, making getting to class difficult. While tenants heard about the possibility of shuttles from the hotels to campus, they said the plans lacked clarity.
On Monday, tenants were asked to sign an addendum in return for temporary housing arrangements, a copy of which was reviewed by The Daily, in part asking them to absolve The One and its parent company from any wrongdoing. Tenants said they felt this aspect of the addendum limited their ability to pursue legal recourse.
“Essentially, students had 24 hours to decide if they were going to accept The One’s new addendum, which released them of liability, or be homeless,” the letter reads.
Some tenants noted that they signed “under duress,” meaning they were forced or coerced, but the online signature platform didn’t allow them to specify their signature as so.
These tenants said their demands will help mitigate the “mental anguish” they face during the weeks leading up to move-in, a process made even more stressful by this year’s return to in-person learning.
The first of the expected move-in dates falls three days after classes begin for the fall semester on Monday, Aug. 30. Writers of the letter who are not staying in a hotel said they have had to scramble to find housing while also coordinating with instructors in the event they cannot be in Ann Arbor for the start of classes.
“All in all, the actions taken by The One are negligent, dishonest, and inhumane,” the tenants wrote. “Their lack of communication has imminent consequences, such as homelessness and food insecurity, for students who have already paid their first month’s rent.”
Daily Staff Reporter Alex Harring can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story has been updated to include comment from Trinitas Ventures.