Apartments near the University of Kansas’s campus are incentivizing potential residents to sign a lease for next fall. Though the incentives draw students in, it is important for students to read the details of a lease before signing.
KU students Jadyn Jay, junior, and London Acree, senior, were told about The Rockland apartments’ referral program through friends. They were informed that if they referred someone to the complex, and they ended up signing a lease, they would receive $200 towards their rent.
“What it turned out to be was that I got money, but you got the money through gift cards through some website,” Acree said. “You didn’t get the physical gift card either. You got screenshots of the gift card.”
Jay also faced issues with her resident referral. She was not given $200 towards her rent nor was she given a $200 credit to the gift card website. Jay reached out to The Rockland management with her concerns.
“Each day there is a different person working there,” Jay said. “Each of them kind of had a different reasoning to why I couldn’t get it [the referral money].”
After going back and forth in person with the Rockland’s staff, Jay was given a final answer from the complex.
“They said time has passed,” Jay said. “Too much time has passed. Afterwards, honestly, I gave up. There was no point in going back.”
The Rockland apartments’ leasing consultant, Kaelan Cameron, explained the rules of the referrals, but did not know more on the specifics of Jay’s circumstance.
“I haven’t really heard of a situation like that with a previous resident, but usually what we do is just encourage some sort of communication with our office,” Cameron said.
Cameron mentioned that there are many different promotions that the complex offers, and some are through gift cards. When the complex uses the gift card method, the money is redeemed through a website called Incentco. However, there are referral promotions that are applied towards rent as well.
“The way that we do that referral bonus is that it is applied on to the residents’ account,” Cameron said. “Basically, it’s used towards monthly rent. The way that it works is it is a rent credit and then once rent pulls out later on, whenever it pulls out for the next month, then it just takes that much, that $300 or $150 off of that rent amount for them.”
Bill Larzalere, Chief Litigation Attorney for Legal Services for Students at KU, offered some general pointers about leases, not specifically directed towards The Rockland apartments.
“The best practice is never to sign a lease on the spot when you first go to a complex and they guide you through a ‘show’ apartment,” Larzalere said. “Instead, take a look, ask for a copy of the lease, take it home, review it with roommates and parents, and only then consider whether you want to sign.”
According to Larzalere, other terms or actions that come back to haunt tenants, not referencing any specific company’s leases, are notes like automatic renewals, pre-set damage/cost lists rather than actual costs/damages at move-out, a minimal or no deposit encouraging tenants to sign immediately and people overlooking the fine print of gift card incentives to sign or recruit tenants.
“When any of the above issues come, always ask for clarification in writing from the rental company,” Larzalere said. “And be sure to contact LSS about trying to remedy the situation if you find yourself not understanding or feel you have been misled by a company.”
Jay also mentioned other troubles with The Rockland apartments concerning the total amount for her rent. Jay and her roommate re-signed their lease early so they could pay $10 less rent per month. According to Jay, when The Rockland made a switch in management, the price of her rent was switched too.
“It [rent] was supposed to be about $495, but with the new management change, they added this thing called a peak coverage or peak insurance where it ends up adding up to still $505,” Jay said.
Jay and her roommate chose to stay with The Rockland, despite their frustrations.
“It’s just hard because everyone is trying to find a cheap place to live and to go to school, and I feel like, since they know that, they also know that you’re not trying to go out of your way to find the best bang for your buck,” Jay said.