A group of Irish nationals who were subleasing apartments in Isla Vista over the summer left Santa Barbara and thousands of dollars of damage behind when they returned home, causing local property-owners and renters to argue about who should pay the price in their wake.
The subleasers allegedly caused $15,000 worth of damages in three apartments at 800 Embarcadero del Mar, said Lt. Sol Linver of the Isla Vista Foot Patrol (IVFP). BDC Management — the company that oversees the building — was unable to prosecute the subleasers because they returned to Ireland at the end of the summer. Katie Maher, BDC property supervisor, said the company will not return security deposits put down by the original tenants whose apartments were damaged because they did not switch the names on their leases, making them legally responsible for the damage their subleasers caused.
Josh Kimball, a third-year biochemistry major who subleased his apartment, said he was shocked by the extent of the damages when he returned to his apartment in early September.
“The apartment was destroyed beyond belief,” Kimball said. “The carpet was black, it smelled like urine, there was writing on all the walls from floor to ceiling and on the cabinets, there were holes in the walls and the front door was gone.”
While Irish citizens have been steadily spending their summers in I.V. for the past five years, BDC Management President Robert Kooyman said the Irish tenants who have subleased from BDC Management in the past have never left an apartment in such disarray.
“They were completely out of control,” Kooyman said. “I don’t know what went wrong. Sure, they party and get wild but never like this.”
Maher said BDC had to replace the subfloor in one bathroom because it was ruined by standing, feces-filled water.
Kimball said the Irish citizens who subleased the apartment put down a separate security deposit so BDC Management would not hold the tenants on the lease responsible for any damage caused. He said he and his roommates are taking legal action against the management company because BDC Management initially told them they would not be responsible for damages caused by subleasers.
“Now they are saying that, because we didn’t switch the lease over, we are fully responsible and they are taking our security deposit,” Kimball said.
Maher said she warned Kimball and his roommates about subleasing. She said they could have switched the lease assignment for $250, but they refused because they wanted to avoid the fee.
“When you sublease we take a second security deposit, but the students who sign the original lease are still on the line,” Maher said. “It’s a sad situation, but the lease and all the paperwork say subleasing doesn’t release them from responsibility.”
Linver said IVFP officers took a vandalism report at the three apartments, which they submitted to the Santa Barbara district attorney. He said that both he and BDC Management spoke with the ambassador for the Irish Consulate about the vandalized properties and said the consulate and the leaders of the programs that coordinated the Irish nationals’ trip to America are planning to meet to address the issue. Since the suspects are now in Ireland, it is difficult to prosecute them through the American court system, but Linver said he wants the subleasers to be held accountable for their actions.
“I’ve communicated with the Irish Consulate about some of the issues with the Irish students,” Linver said. “I am going to forward the names and charges of the more serious issues we dealt with out here.”
Maher said she emailed pictures of the damaged apartments to the Irish tenants’ schools to illustrate the extent of vandalism the students left behind. She said BDC does not plan on renting to Irish subleasers again.