SAN DIEGO — Exterminated bugs left behind, and cockroaches in the kitchen and cupboards. A collapsed sink, a flooded kitchen, and dirty water.
According to a San Diego State University student, those are the conditions of student apartments that the university does not own but does lease.
“We have been complaining about our sinks, our closets and our bathroom,” said Sam Owen, a SDSU sophomore and Aztec Court resident.
Joe Berniklau, who is also a SDSU student, said each week there is a barrage of complaints on a complex chat group.
“The first day, we walked in and you immediately noticed the black mold. That was crazy to me,” said Berniklau.
On Tuesday, Berniklau began a petition that has collected more than 500 signatures calling on SDSU to clean up what he calls disgusting housing conditions at Aztec Corner.
“Speeding up the maintenance time is not enough. Not even close,” said Berniklau.
This is the first year sophomores are required to live on campus. Berniklau said he pays $1,300 each month to share a two-bedroom with three other roommates. Last year he paid $700.
“You can’t choose where to live, but you can’t choose how much to pay, and it looks like you can’t choose whether you want a livable or not livable room,” said Berniklau.
San Diego State University said it took over the Aztec Corner lease in August. In statement the university said:
"This agreement means that SDSU retains the right to license and lease space within the building, and a different entity is then responsible for maintaining the property, including resident maintenance requests."
Berniklau said, “what that sounds like to me is a massive deflection of responsibility.”
A massive problem he said SDSU needs to clean up.
“The main thing I want form this is not monetary reimbursement. I mean, that would be nice [but] I just want the message to be spread and people know what is happening here," said Berniklau.
In 2017, SDSU had to move students from Maya Hall because of black mold. Berniklau said the university has reached out to him to schedule a meeting.
San Diego State University's Full Statement:
“A number of issues being reported about Aztec Corner are not accurate. As of noon today, Nov. 15, we had two active maintenance requests among the 602 total residents for repairing a refrigerator and also for a toilet repair.
The offices of Housing Administration and Residential Education has been actively working with residents to ensure that issues are being properly reported so that they may be addressed.
For further clarification, there is no confirmed presence of black mold, and no active flooding caused by damage of the piping system.
San Diego State University does not own the building and is also not the property manager of Aztec Corner. The university is currently in a master lease agreement, which became effective in August 2019.
This agreement means that SDSU retains the right to license and lease space within the building, and a different entity is then responsible for maintaining the property, including resident maintenance requests. Because the university’s primary concern is with the health and safety of its community members, university staff receive and process all service requests for maintenance.
This allows the university to ensure that the property manager addresses requests in a timely fashion.
Regarding questions related to rent and lease agreements: The rent rate is a reflection of the property manager's market rate, plus SDSU’s residential education cost, which is embedded within the rent rate. Prior to the master lease agreement, rent was paid in 12 monthly payments.
Today, SDSU’s rent on a license agreement are on a 10 installment payment agreement to accommodate student financial aid scheduling.
For further clarification, all Aztec Corner residents are on installment payment plans based on contract terms. For the most current information, visit the SDSU Housing site.
Rental rates are contingent upon a number of factors: housing location, the number of roommates, the least payment schedule and whether a student has a meal plan.
Lastly, the only instance of having to move multiple students due to the presence of mold occurred in December 2017, and in Maya only."