Although the University Village opened its doors more than a year ago, some students are still unsatisfied with how the Department of Residence Halls is handling the Village policies.
Residence Halls representatives are saying much of the complaints are because of miscommunication, not because of inconsistent policies.
One thing causing frustration for residents is the three months of summer payments, even when students are not at school.
“Because the lease is 12 months, I’m forced to stay here over the summer and find a job. I would not have stayed in Miami otherwise,” said Daniel Solomon, a junior.
But, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Gilbert Arias said there is a way to break the lease for the summer.
“We will work with the students individually to find someone to take over their lease. If the resident has someone who wants to take the lease over, they both need to come into housing and the new lease is started,” Arias said. “There is no fee involved.”
However, the University Village lease form for 2007-08 explicitly states “in the event Owner consents to an assignment or subletting of the Premises, Resident will be charged a fee of $500.00 for the additional office work involved,” which could be confusing to current residents.
“There is only a fee if a student wants to break the lease in the middle of the semester for some reason. Otherwise, there is no fee,” Arias said.
Contrary to what some seniors think, those graduating in May also do not have to pay a fee if they want to leave in May. In an email to The Miami Hurricane, Arias explained the situation.
“The reason for the confusion is that students signed the lease when JPI [who previously owned the Village] was still managing University Village. When the Department of Residence Halls took over when JPI left, they modified the policies,” Arias said.
According to the Department of Residence Halls, the Village was planned to have a 12-month lease, and the university is not planning on changing the lease to make it the same term as the dorms. Yet other Florida colleges offer similar housing to University Village with competitive pricing and without the binding 12-month contract.
University of Central Florida, for example, offers five-, 10- and 12-month leases for their apartments and charges $530 for a 4-4 as compared to University Village’s $800.
“We are, however, considering changing the monthly payments to semester payments similar to the rest of on-campus housing,” said Jon Baldessari, associate director of residence halls. “These payments could also be done through Student Accounts.”
Some students say it is difficult to decide if they are getting the best deal by living in University Village.
“There’s no way to compare University Village versus other apartments in the area because UV is right on campus. The need for transportation is eliminated,” said Harold Rifas, an attorney in South Miami who deals with real estate law. “An off-campus apartment might be cheaper for rent, but sometimes isn’t all-inclusive, or transportation needs to be taken into account. It’s difficult to say who’s getting the better deal.”
According to Angeline Blair, a leasing agent at Valencia Apartments located south of the University of Miami on 70th Street, a 1-1 apartment is $1,179/month, a 2-2 is $1,579/month and a 3-2 is $1,772/month.
But despite the higher prices, Valencia Apartment Homes has a pool, sundeck and volleyball area as well as a full service clubhouse and fully equipped fitness center and billiard room. Having a car and commuting to the university is also not a necessity.
Still, Arias said the university wants “to do whatever is best for each student’s interest,” and if students are still not satisfied with University Village, the Department of Residence
Halls will assist individuals in finding off-campus housing. By visiting www.miami.edu/off-campus-housing, students can browse through available housing by selecting the criteria they’re looking for, including move-in date, neighborhood, housing type, monthly rent and more.
Erika Capek may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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