Isla Vista management company Wolfe & Associates came under high scrutiny last week after some residents began questioning additional fees that were deducted from their security deposits.
At Thursday’s Isla Vista Tenants Union meeting, group members addressed what they called an administrative fee that was attached to carpet, painting, light bulb and heater repairs, among other items. In response, Wolfe & Associates said the fees covered the time spent by the company on contracting these services. Additionally, the IVTU discussed a recent eviction of families living on El Greco Road.
IVTU Tenant Advocate Kristina Lee said the Wolfe & Associates fee seems unnecessary.
“It’s just a reason for an extra charge,” Lee said. “There is no law explicitly against the fee, but IVTU is trying to put an end to the additional charge. Given that [Wolfe & Associates manages] the majority of the property in Isla Vista, it is affecting a lot of people.”
However, Wolfe & Associates Property Supervisor Chris Mercier said the fee helps the company cover the costs of coordinating vendors and contractors to repair damages.
“This is not a fee assessed to cover administrative costs,” Mercier said. “Those are absorbed by the company. It’s only charged if we have to spend time to hire contractors and vendors to repair damages.”
Mercier also said the fee was scaled down from previous leases and is now set at 10 percent of the damages incurred by the residents.
“If residents leave the place as it was when they moved in, there is no vendor oversight fee,” Mercier said.
Meanwhile, Lee said she encourages students to fight these charges. She said Wolf & Associates has thus far been open to dialogue on the issue and that IVTU will continue to discuss the fee.
During last week’s meeting, the IVTU also addressed a set of evictions from an apartment complex on El Greco managed by Schultz & Associates.
Schultz & Associates was not available for comment.
According to Associated Students External Vice President of Local Affairs Lindsey Quock, the families were reportedly evicted for allegedly breaking their contract by having too many people living in a unit. However, she said the manager of the complex was allegedly aware of the problem at the time and continued to let the tenants stay where they were without informing the landlord.
“The manager is there to speak on the landlords behalf and work directly with the tenants,” Quock said. “They are a source of communication. It’s not fair on the tenants’ side. They were under the impression that it was okay.”
Lee said many students work to pay their rents and face similar problems in which they feel forced to increase the number of occupants in one unit.
“Many landlords are now trying to fit more people inside the apartments,” Lee said. “This becomes a habitability issue when you’re talking about six people compared to four.”