Seven07 tenants experience water issues, poor living conditions

Seven07’s management company, The Cardinal Group, manages over 150 properties across the country — tenants at some have raised similar issues.

Seven07+has+been+under+fire+for+inadequate+services+regarding+water+and+living+conditions+during+the+areas+largest+snowstorm+of+the+season.

Matt Troher

Seven07 has been under fire for inadequate services regarding water and living conditions during the area’s largest snowstorm of the season.

By Matt Troher and Ashley Gilbert

Clare Oehler-O’Sullivan, senior in LAS, placed a pot of water on the stove of her seventh-floor apartment. She turned on the burner, took a step back and waited for the water to boil.

Once the boil started to roll, she took the pot off the heat and waited a few minutes. Pot in hand, careful not to spill the much-needed warm water, she made her way to her bathroom. Oehler-O’Sullivan needed to take a shower. She was sick with COVID-19, and hot water from her apartment’s plumbing was not available.

She and her three roommates all had — or recently have had — COVID-19. Using a friend’s shower, or public shower at the ARC, was out of the question. Boiling water was her only solution to clean herself.

Seven07 resident Clare Oehler-O’Sullivan boils water on her stove because she does not have hot running water in her apartment. (Clare Oehler-O’Sullivan)

Oehler-O’Sullivan lives at Seven07, a 14-story luxury apartment complex located at 707 S. Fourth St. right in the heart of Campustown. Some tenants at Seven07 have been experiencing intermittent issues with hot water since the beginning of the school year. These issues have been exacerbated since Feb. 2nd, with hot water becoming completely unavailable for some tenants.

After hot water became entirely unavailable on Feb. 2, Seven07’s management set up two temporary showers in the building’s model units for the complex’s residents to share. Tenants were instructed to sign up for 15-minute time slots to minimize congestion. These time slots began at 3 a.m. 

Oehler-O’Sullivan and her roommates did not use the temporary showers because they were COVID-19-positive. According to residents, there was no procedure in place further than the honor system to stop COVID-19-positive individuals from using the communal showers.

Manvi Sharma, a Seven07 resident and junior in LAS, said her three roommates resorted to similar measures as Oehler-O’Sullivan. Before the winter storm on Feb. 2, Sharma went out to buy plastic containers for easy transportation of hot water from the kitchen to the shower. 

“It has been extremely frustrating. Firstly because this has not been the first time me and my roommates have been faced with this issue, that’s another reason we were so frustrated is because there’s always been a hot water problem in this building,” Sharma said. “Having basic amenities like hot water is so simple, and there are so many other things that they were supposed to have taken care of. Like maintenance requests are never fulfilled on time.”

Seven07’s management sent an email to the complexs residents regarding the hot water issues on Feb. 2. The email read: “We are aware of the hot water issue affecting the building currently. Our maintenance team and technicians from a repair vendor are diligently working to resolve this issue as soon as possible.” 

According to Sharma, Seven07’s management has taken down all of maintenance requests from its website. All past requests that do not concern the water heater have been put on hold. This has left some tenants with Wi-Fi troubles.

“I think that they should have been more proactive,” Sharma said, expressing her frustration about the situation. “They were extremely negligent in my opinion about the issue when people had reported it months ago, and if they hadn’t then it would not have gotten to the point where the entire boiler system went out.” 

Sharma said she has been frustrated with Seven07s management since August, and feels that management should be more proactive to resolve issues.

“We get that buildings face problems … the main issue is that we have been facing this issue for months now,” Sharma said. “I have emails with the building manager from August of last year talking about how our things don’t get fixed.” 

Seven07 is managed by The Cardinal Group, a property management and development company. The Cardinal Group is based in Denver, Colorado, and manages 177 properties in 36 states — the majority of which are apartment complexes near college campuses.

“We are aware of the current hot water outage in the Seven07 community,” said Abby Hays, the community manager for Seven07, in an emailed statement to The Daily Illini. “Our on-site team is actively working to restore service to the building. We apologize to our residents for any inconvenience. We will communicate directly with our residents, when the hot water has been restored.”

Tenants in some properties managed by The Cardinal Group across the country have experienced poor living conditions over the last months.

Tenants at the Mint Urban Infinity, a property managed by The Cardinal Group in Denver, Colorado, have sought a class-action lawsuit against the management company following hot water issues and a persistent lack of air conditioning. Tenants at the Westmar Lofts, a property managed by The Cardinal Group in Atlanta, Georgia, near the Georgia State University campus, have made similar complaints about living conditions regarding mold and insect infestations.

Sreenidhi Vijayaraghavan, junior in Engineering, has also been experiencing hot water issues since November. Living on the building’s 12th floor, Vijayaraghavan claims it would often take upwards of half an hour for hot water to reach her apartment.

The water heater at Seven07 is located on the building’s first floor. Tenants living on the building’s higher floors, such as Vijayaraghavan and her roommates, have suggested that the distance between their apartments and the water heater has contributed to the issue.

Tenants at Seven07 have to pay an upper floor charge when living above the building’s eighth floor. According to Vijayaraghavan, the upper floor charge for the 12th floor is $50 per month.

Vijayaraghavan and her roommates, Kruthi Challa and Nireeha Yerramserdi, both juniors in LAS, say issues with Seven07 extend further than the hot water issue. They say that the apartment’s Wi-Fi network — which is included in tenants’ rent — has been frustratingly slow since the beginning of the semester. This proved to be an issue from Feb. 2 to Feb. 4, when a snowstorm forced all classes to switch to online modalities.

While attempting to take a Zoom class from her apartment during the snowstorm, Vijayaraghavan’s Wi-Fi was so unstable that the call dropped four times. She ran an internet speed test, and saw her internet speed drop to two mbps — the average speed in the U.S. is 136 mbps according to speedtest.net.

“The general Seven07 Wi-Fi would work for some time, but then it would cut out, so it was extremely inconvenient for taking online classes or if students are at home trying to study for midterms,” Vijayaraghavan said. “It’s completely unacceptable. We have complained about the Wi-Fi as well, and they have not taken steps to fix that.”

Tenants have also complained about frequent fire alarms. According to Clara O’Sullivan, junior in LAS, the apartment’s fire alarm system would sometimes go off twice or more per week.

Accustomed to the alarm’s frequency, some tenants have stopped evacuating the building when an alarm would sound — especially those living on the building’s upper floors.

“It’s a boy who cried wolf scenario,” O’Sullivan said. “A lot of people do not come down when the alarms go off. You can even see people still working out in the workout rooms. They’re just like ‘it goes off too much.’ No one really takes it seriously.”

Vijayaraghavan claims there is no fire extinguisher located in her apartment unit. Oehler-O’Sullivan also claims there is no fire extinguisher located in her apartment either, although she noted an extinguisher in the hallway outside her apartment.

O’Sullivan highlighted the disparity between Seven07’s advertisement as a luxury apartment, and the living conditions she and her roommate have experienced.

“When we signed our lease, we had the impression that they were going to be taking good care of us, and we were going to be living in a really nice place,” O’Sullivan said. “What we found is that it’s really just made to look nice so they can really advertise themselves as being luxury, but when it comes to living here and having to try to deal with them, they don’t help. The management themselves are very kind people, and they’ll smile at you when you walk in, but then if you ask them about something, they’re gonna just pretty much avoid answering.”

Seven07s building manager, Abby Hays, was out of the buildings office from Feb. 3 to Feb 9, as the water issues reached a peak. The building’s hot water was restored on Friday, Feb. 11 according to Sharma, however, there are still some rooms that have difficulties. Seven07 was without hot water for nine days, most of which were during the largest snowstorm of the season. 

 

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