Delayed apartment complex with fake reviews has UNLV students sc - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU


Delayed apartment complex with fake reviews has UNLV students scrambling

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Hundreds of University of Nevada, Las Vegas students found out over the summer that the apartment complex they were supposed to live at this upcoming fall semester wasn't even finished being built yet. Ever since many of those students have been scrambling to figure out where they're going to stay.

Student Nick Hull said he was excited to live at The Degree apartment complex on UNLV's campus but started to get worried earlier this year that the project wasn't going well.

"I lived on campus last year in the dorms. I was always going past the building," he said. "You could see it wasn't going up."

Hull is now back home in New York for the summer. He said he was on the phone with people at the complex assuring him everything would be okay, just days before he got a letter confirming his suspicions. All leases were terminated.

"I don't know how they could lie to us," he said. "Now I have to look for apartments without even being in Vegas."

Megan Pitsch said she was worried about the sudden change, especially because she knows there are some bad spots in UNLV's surrounding area. 

"I was freaking out. I didn't know where I was going to live!" she said. "Coming from out of state you never know the city truly until you move there and after my first year I realized that UNLV isn't necessarily in the greatest area... I think there are people still scrambling."

Eric Midby, CEO of The Midby Company, blamed "construction delays beyond our control." He said the company began notifying students on June 5th and that everyone was able to get their deposits back. Some of the students were able to sign leases at another complex owned by Asset Campus Housing, a housing property management company that partnered with Midby.

Asset Campus Housing solicits fake reviews

So far, The Degree doesn't look anything close to the renderings posted online of the what the finished product is supposed to look like. Students said they couldn't wait to hang out in the luxurious pool and live so close to their classes. Some of them said they left positive "five star" reviews online because of a promotion. Others said they were required to leave fake reviews.

"I used to work there," Maya Dendy wrote on Facebook. "We had to write reviews to get ppl excited about it... the layout was nice tho."

"I worked at another asset campus housing place and we swapped reviews," Christian Kelly wrote.

"So it was a fake review," we said. "Isn't that kind of shady?"

"Look I mean I was told to write a review by my boss. That's what I did," he responded.

At least five people told FOX5 that their positive review was fake. Many others, who still work for Asset Campus Housing, refused to respond.

"The Degree of excitement I get from The Degree is unreal," Jacob Kiker wrote in his review, despite listing on Facebook that he works as a leasing agent at a different property owned by Asset Campus Housing.

Chris Byrd Jr. said his review was "pretty much" fake.

"That was to receive a promotion gift," he said, not remembering what the gift was.

"I was interested in the Degree at first. However, when they told me it would be ready by the fall I didn't believe it would be done by that time. So, I decided to renew my lease at Rebel place instead," student Chris Cross wrote. "(My review) was legit."

At last check, The Degree had 53 reviews and a 4.9 star rating on Facebook.

"The Midby Cos. management knows nothing about this and has never instructed their employees to write fake reviews," wrote Melissa Warren, a spokesperson who represents the company. She said she does not represent Asset Campus Housing. 

A spokesperson for Asset Campus Housing said the company's policy is to not allow employees to write fake reviews. He said he is looking into the numerous complaints.

Company responsible for deadly construction site still works at UNLV

A lot of students speculated that the "construction delays" are a result of controversial company Performance Builders working on the site. The students have seen protesters standing outside the complex for months holding signs to condemn UNLV for hiring a company with a bad history of worker safety.

Ricardo Bautista, 30, died at Tivoli Village last August when the scaffold he was on top of fell apart. Ever since, a FOX5 investigation revealed that Performance Builders has continued to make the same mistakes various other work sites.

OSHA initially fined Performance Builders $7,000 for the deadly accident but has since hit Performance Builders with "willful" violations due to future cases. The construction company continues to get work.

"We drove by and we saw a bunch of people holding up labor dispute signs, and my mom goes, 'Of course. That might put you back a couple more months or so,'" Pitsch said. "They have a dead employee! I mean... They shouldn't have been working on this in the first place. They should make sure all their safety protocols are in check."

OSHA investigators were at Performance Builders' UNLV work site earlier this year to investigate reported problems with its scaffold. The company was not cited for any issues.

Korte Company, the general contractor in charge of the complex's construction, declined to comment on why they decided to hire or work with Performance Builders. A spokesperson for the company could not confirm or deny whether Performance Builders' involvement has anything to do with the delays.

Construction started at The Degree on April 8, 2016. When the project was initially announced, it was supposed to break ground in April 2013.

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