Here is a bit of what happened to me. On Monday, May 4th, my house had just gone under contract and I didn't have a place to move should my home sell. I did some searching online that day and Tuesday to see what type of senior living options I could find. I found a few senior apartments locally in Jacksonville, but wasn't terribly interested in them since they were pretty old properties. Googling a bit further, I learned of a new senior apartment in Palm Coast.
|Jacksonville, Florida to Palm Coast, Florida|
Courtesy Google Maps
Kim got me started on the application paperwork. I don't precisely remember where Alexis came in and also began working with me. I do remember that neither one of them verbally informed me that the $350 check they wanted from me was considered the "holding fee" and that should I cancel, that it would be non-refundable. Knowing me, I am not the type of person who would enter into an agreement where I couldn't get my money back. I did know from past experiences that the $75 application fee was never refunded. So, they got two checks from me that day.
If you see the note on my $350 check, you will see "DEP. ($600.00)" which was my understanding that I was giving a portion of the deposit upfront. Up to that point, the word, "holding fee," hadn't been verbally discussed.
I sincerely was surprised at all the personal information along with financial records that were requested by Kim Oliver and Alexis Miller for the application process. I couldn't help but think how unfriendly that was towards a senior; especially a senior newly retired and living on social security. Was this how it was going to be now for me to rent an apartment since I retired from the corporate world?
That application was quite unusual in how it spelled out different types of people who they asked whether or not they would be living with you. You specifically had to address each type of people to ensure that you were the only one to reside in the apartment. And, further along in the application, you specifically were asked about your finances and banking information which was also spelled out by type of account. I felt it was very intrusive and am still wondering ... is that legal?
I think it must have been at the end of the application that I missed an important part of the process. I honestly never read that fine print until just THIS MORNING when I got a reply from the Better Business Bureau of Northeast Florida. This was the first time that I was getting to see what was in the fine print. And, I am wondering, why did I not receive a copy of this the day I applied?
Why did they not emphasize that the $350 was the "holding fee" that would be non-refundable should my house not sell and should I decide to cancel. I did read that they would have refunded the $350 if I was not approved. Looking at that fine print today, I'm wondering how did I miss all that and was it underlined like that when I signed it? I do know that I was sitting in the lobby of the Reserve at Brookhaven working on the application and I was also giving my financial documentation to Kim and/or Alexis to copy while I did the application. A good question, did Kim assume Alexis discussed the holding fee with me; or did Alexis assume that Kim discussed the holding fee with me? When, in actuality, neither one of them verbally discussed the holding fee being non-refundable!
My financial documentation and paperwork they took that day included: driver's license, monthly check from ex, divorce decree, bank checking statement including copies of recent checks, bank savings statement, bank IRA statement, home sales contract, and the social security benefit letter. Since my letter wasn't current within 90 days, I was taken into another room and told to call the Social Security Administration. In front of me was a yellow sticky note which said I should tell the SSA that I am sitting in front of the fax machine. Well, come to find out, I was sitting in front of a fax machine, but not the fax machine that I was asking the SSA to fax my benefit letter! I found that kind of strange. It took a while with the SSA and finally one of the girls walked into the room waving my benefit letter; she said it came in through a fax in another office.
The paperwork for the application process was finished from my end and Alexis did agree to show me an apartment in the Brookhaven complex. She said she couldn't take me to Palm Coast Landing Senior Apartments because there was nothing to see since it was a construction zone. After I saw the apartment there, I said goodbye to Alexis and opted to drive around the area by myself. I did remember Alexis mentioning Central Avenue, so when I found that street, I knew the senior apartments must be nearby.
When I drove up to the construction site of Palm Coast Landing Senior Apartments, I was "encouraged" that they did actually exist ... despite the fact that Alexis wouldn't take me to the site.
It was on a Thursday that I submitted my application paperwork for these senior apartments. I thought I would hear back within a couple of days, or maybe within 24 hours. No such luck. Early the next week, I got a phone call from Alexis or Kim saying they needed more financial documentation. That was when the red flags really went up. They wanted six months of checking statements along with a recent IRA statement [which I had already supplied]. And, they asked me to call my mortgage company to fax them a recent mortgage statement. Then, I also noticed on May 13th at 10:34am, someone from Concord Management in Maitland, Florida, was visiting my online websites to check me out further. All this for a rental of a senior apartment??
They, either Alexis or Kim, then told me that I would hear back from them the next day. I heard nothing and waited until Thursday to send an email asking the status. There was no reply to my email. I made the decision on Friday afternoon that I wanted to cancel as I felt I had surrendered way too much financial documentation for a rental application. My email went out after 4pm. Not too long after that email, I got a reply finally from Alexis that I was JUST APPROVED and would I reconsider as she didn't want me to lose my holding fee. How about that? Now, I was just approved and was going to lose the holding fee. Surprise Surprise.
All things considered, after being put through the ringer with the application process, I didn't feel comfortable living in that kind of senior apartment. Oh, and something I forgot to mention. It was at the end of the application process that Thursday that I mentioned my cat. That's when I was informed it would be $50 per month for the cat, non-refundable. You read on their website about their pet policy, "Pets Allowed. Our homes accommodate up to two pets per apartment with a maximum weight limit of 30 lbs. Please call the leasing office for pet deposit fees." However, that pet policy doesn't say how much your pet will cost you to stay in those senior apartments!! That's not pet-friendly.
Well, you probably guessed it, that I filed a few complaints against Palm Coast Landing Senior Apartments and their agent, Concord Management Ltd. I filed a Ripoff Report against Palm Coast Landing Senior Apartments on May 28, 2015. You can read a bit more on that ripoff report about my unfortunate experience with Palm Coast Landing and Concord Management.
I have now heard back from the Better Business Bureau of Northeast Florida, the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, and Seniors vs. Crime. It was actually the BBB reply today that got me a copy of the last page of that signed application. Why did Kim Oliver and/or Alexis Miller not give me a copy of that application? While I was filing my online complaints, I did come across a Google Review by another applicant who lost her "holding fee." Not very friendly to seniors living on social security that you need to risk losing $350 through Concord Management Ltd. should you fill out an application for a senior apartment.
Read more about MY personal experience from my other blog posts along with the ripoff report: