Leasing at recently constructed apartment complexes poses risks

Opinions Columnist | Journalism Sophomore

Students need to be cautious of recently constructed apartment complexes when deciding where to sign a lease.

Apartment searching can be as daunting as trying to find One-Eyed Willy’s treasure. Students have to ask themselves multiple questions to whittle down the vast selection of apartments in San Marcos. How close do they want to be to campus? Do they want to live in a complex that is pet-friendly? Of course, the most important question to ask when searching for an apartment is, what is the price range?

For some, the only apartments that seem to satisfy students’ ideal living criteria are not even apartments—just plots of land destined to be the next greatest thing in student living. We all know these soon-to-be apartments—they are the ones who hire students to promote the awesomeness that will be their complex, the ones that hand out shirts by the truckload. Free stuff being the gateway to college students’ hearts, they figure giveaways will tempt students to sign an early lease. There is no way of knowing how good these apartments will be, however, and students need to do their research before signing a lease.

Currently, Capstone Cottages, Uptown Square and Eight17 Lofts are all in the process of being constructed. All three of these complexes plan on being open in time for the fall 2014 semester, but drive to their locations and not one of the complexes is anywhere close to being finished. A search of all three of their websites did not provide an exact move-in date either. The best I could find was a very vague statement claiming for a planned availability in August. But the uncertainty about the opening dates has not stopped any of the complexes from allowing students to pre-lease for the fall. If these complexes have any hope of finishing on time, they have to pick up the pace on production. However, an unfortunate side effect of expediting construction is sloppy work, something that only causes future headaches for tenants.

Perhaps the best way for students to decide if they should lease at a brand-new complex is to look at an older complex first. The best example for this would be the delayed openings of The Avenue, Vistas and Millennium on Post. According to an August University Star article, all three of the complexes experienced delayed openings. Many students were not even able to move in before classes began. Students took to the complexes’ Facebook pages to voice their disapproval of having to pay their rent even though they were not even allowed to move in. Vistas and The Avenue attempted to console their apartment-less patrons by offering compensation for hotel stays and offered various gifts. However, a University Star Main Point article later stated that some students never received these gifts.

I am wary of new apartment openings because I have firsthand experience. Coming from Texas A&M the previous semester, I was without a place to live and did not have a lot of time to find a home. After weeks of searching I was able to find a sublease for a studio apartment at The Avenue. Although I was fully aware of the problems involving the opening of the apartments, I convinced myself that since I was moving in well after these events transpired, they would not affect me. I was wrong in the greatest sense of the word. In the four months I have lived at The Avenue, I have experienced unreliable Wi-Fi, an A/C system that breaks even after being serviced multiple times, uneven screws, handles and shelves, and worst of all, I have been forced to battle a spider army that always has reinforcements.

For the most part, I am happy with where I live, except for those spiders. For some, living in a brand new apartment is the best choice, and not all new complexes will experience the same hiccups as others. However, students need to stay cautious and be aware that the best thing in student living might be an apartment that has been around for a while.