Update: Burnham 310 tenants asked to pay deposit

By Patrick Wade

The University Tenant Union has received complaints against the landlord of the Burnham 310 building from five students regarding security deposits on their apartments, said Tenant Union coordinator Esther Patt.

Tenants holding apartments on floors one through six at the building, located at 310 E. Springfield Ave., began moving in earlier this week after the building was cleared by the city of Champaign for partial occupancy.

And as tenants settled in Thursday, Patt said she received two complaints about the building’s conditions, stating that some apartments had no hot water and a gap between the walls and the ceiling.

When some students went to the leasing office to finalize their arrangements, employees informed them that they were required to pay a $1,000 security deposit before moving in.

This came as a surprise to Ankit Patel, sophomore in LAS and one of the building’s tenants, who said the security deposit requirement was not outlined in the lease agreement, and he and his roommates were unaware of the fee.

Patt said she has personally inspected some of the students’ leases during the last two days, and the landlords are asking for money they are not entitled to.

“They have absolutely no legal right to demand money that’s not in the contract,” Patt said.

Patt said she advised Marquette Management, the company overseeing the building, to repay the deposit money it received from some tenants.

She said she directed students with complaints about apartment conditions to contact the city of Champaign’s property maintenance inspctors.

Mary Herrold, business developer for Marquette Management, said tenants had been informed of the security deposit before or at the lease signing. Although the contract stated that the lessees had not yet paid a security deposit, Herrold said it was understood that they would be required to do so prior to moving in.

She said the company had never been dishonest, and she does not feel it is being unreasonable.

“We believed that they understood,” Herrold said.

Herrold said prospective tenants had been given a document detailing aspects of the living arrangement, including the required security deposit.

Patel said that he had never received this document. When he went to the landlord’s office to finalize his move-in, he was informed that he would not be able to move in without paying his security deposit.

His temporary roommates, with whom he lived while waiting for the building’s construction to be completed, hired an attorney to resolve the issue. The landlord has since allowed Patel to begin moving in without paying the deposit.

Herrold said that the company has been working with tenants who wish not to pay the deposit, and has allowed some to move in without paying the $1,000.

She said she was worried that if the decision to allow some tenants to move in without making a deposit was publicized, then students who had paid would be upset.

Jessica Sturdy, sophomore in ACES, said that she received an e-mail Oct. 16 stating that she would be required to pay the security deposit. The e-mail was the first she had heard about it.

Sturdy said she paid the security deposit and moved in without issue.

“I just paid it because they asked us to,” said Julie Kero, sophomore in AHS, who was also recently cleared to move in.

Kero said she also received an e-mail about a week ago informing her of the $1,000 security deposit.

Marie Wilson contributed to this report