Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Palm Coast Landing Senior Apartments BBB Complaint

I was encouraged to submit a Better Business Bureau complaint against Palm Coast Landing Senior Apartments and Concord Management Limited after I shared my story online with my Facebook peeps. It was after that BBB complaint that I opted to pen a blog post to warn other unsuspecting seniors to be careful of this community and management company.

It was after I submitted the BBB complaint that I actually got to see a copy of the third page of the application that I signed. On that page, there was a paragraph above the signature area with a lot of fine print, some underlined. There it tells you that you will not get back your holding fee of $350 should you opt to cancel and have been approved. In my case, I canceled BEFORE I got word that I had "just been approved." Very suspicious and a bit unethical.

If you are curious about my experience, check out my blog post on Palm Coast Landing Senior Apartments written on June 22, 2015. My unsatisfactory and sad experience began on the morning of May 7, 2015, when I drove over 1 hour to Palm Coast to check out the community. I didn't technically get to check out the community as the leasing agent(s) refused to take me there, saying it was a construction zone with nothing to see. That made me wonder all the more, so, I drove around until I found it!

Palm Coast Landing Senior Apartments handouts at application time
Palm Coast Landing Senior Apartments handouts at application time
I took a copy of that little flyer so that I had something about the community!

Here is the text of my actual complaint filed with the Better Business Bureau:
I have recently had dealings with Concord Rents aka Concord Management LTD through two of its leasing agents/floaters, Kim Oliver and Alexis Miller. Being a retired senior, living on social security, I heard about a new senior apartment building, Palm Coast Landing Senior Apartments. I was interested in finding out about a senior apartment, thinking it would meet my needs, although I am a young senior. On May 7, 2015, I drove from Jacksonville, FL to Palm Coast, FL to view the Palm Coast Senior Apartments and possibly secure one of their senior apartments. The apartments were not yet ready, so I met with two leasing agents from Concord Management at a sister property. They had two layouts for a one bedroom apartment - Laguna and Reef - both renting for $746. When I arrived, Kim Oliver first sat with me and gave me the application to fill out. Later in the process, Alexis Miller sat with me. When I filled out the application, they asked for two checks, $75 for the application fee and $350 which would go towards the deposit of $600. After I had written my two checks and they had taken them, I mentioned my cat. That is when I learned they charge $50 per month for cats although the pet policy says nothing about that charge. They took an incredible amount of financial information from me including a copy of my divorce decree of 11/2010, my current home sales contract of 5/4/2015, checking account statement, savings statement, IRA statement, copy of a monthly check from the ex. They took me into another room and told me to call the Social Security Administration to request that they fax a current income letter; to tell the SSA I was sitting in front of the fax machine, although that wasn't the fax machine the income letter would come through - it was in a different office. When I asked to see the apartments, they said we couldn't go down there. Instead, they took me to a townhome at the sister property to show me the kitchen saying it had similar finishes. After the showing, Alexis said goodbye to me in the parking lot. I decided to go find those apartments. I drove around the block and then found Central remembering Alexis had mentioned that street. Driving a couple of blocks down Central, I saw a building that looked a bit like the website photo. I drove up to the entrance and saw the Palm Coast Senior Living sign. That was my only "viewing" of the potential senior apartment. Long story, short, the following week, Alexis phones and requests yet more financial information - six months of my checking statements and a current IRA statement; plus, could I call my mortgage company to fax them a current mortgage statement. They got all that extra info from me and said that I would know about my application the next day. That day came and went, along with Thursday and then into Friday; no word. Friday late afternoon, I emailed Alexis to tell her that I was unhappy with being put through the ringer with all that personal financial information; I was concerned about them handling that info with the possibility of becoming a victim of identity theft. I told her I was canceling my application and wanted my $350 deposit refunded. Two hours later Alexis emailed me back to say she had been busy; that I JUST got approved, and would I reconsider as she didn't want me to lose my holding fee. What?? Nothing was said about a non-refundable holding fee. They took $75 plus $350 and have not communicated back. I WANT MY $350 MONEY BACK!! Preying on senior citizens? Deceptive rental practices? Plus, they don't tell you until after you have paid the money and completed the application that your cat will cost $50 per month! That is understood upfront to be non-refundable. More information about my complaint:

Ripoff Report: Palm Coast Landing Senior Apartments and Concord Management Limited.

DesiredSettlementID: Other (requires explanation) I want my $350.00 refunded immediately. They shouldn't have kept anything other than the $75.00 application fee.
palm coast landing senior apartments application fine print
Palm Coast Landing Senior Apartments Application - Page 3
Note: I was not furnished with a copy of this at the time of application.
This copy was furnished as an answer to my BBB complaint!
I did get a reply to my BBB complaint from the business. I'm not sure who wrote that reply, if it was Palm Coast Landing Senior Apartments or Concord Management Limited. Here is what they had to say about the issue:
Julie Brady applied in our office on 5/7/2015. She did pay our office both a $75 application fee and a $350 holding fee. It is explained at the time of application that the $75 application fee is not refundable as it is a processing fee, and the $350 is only refundable if an application is denied. If an applicant cancels it is not refundable. Please see attached application (personal information omitted with attached copy), signed by Julie Brady, stating the application fee is nonrefundable. The application also states, directly above Julie Brady’s signature, should this application be cancelled by applicant all monies, including all holding fees and/or deposits paid up to $350 will be forfeited.

Between May 7, 2015 and May 14, 2015 we had several phone call communications and e-mail communications with Ms. Brady regarding her application. Our community does operate under the LIHTC program, which Ms. Brady did apply for a unit with that program. Due to this program we do require financial information from our applicants as we have to determine their income does not exceed our maximum income requirements for the household size.

At no time did our office not respond timely to Ms. Brady. E-mail communication is at times delayed as our company does have spam blockers in place and it can delay e-mails coming through up to 24 hours.

We will not be refunding Ms. Brady’s $350 holding fee as she was both verbally told it is nonrefundable at the time of application and also when she called to cancel her application, and it is also written on her signed application.

palm coast landing senior apartments BBB complaint answer
I replied back to the BBB that I was not satisfied with the company's response. The information supplied by the company in their response was not 100% true. No one verbally informed me of the nonrefundable holding fee. In fact, it wasn't until I saw the company response that I actually read the fine print on that application.

The company decided to stick it to me and keep the $350. I do know that the leasing agent Alexis Miller spoke of cancellations they had already received. Did they keep all those applicants' $350???

The BBB marked my complaint "closed" with a notation, "Answered - the business addressed the issues within the complaint, but the consumer remains dissatisfied." Well, I guess so! Shoot, those greedy and unethical people took $75 for an application and then delayed the answer on approval until 8 days later and then said I was "just approved" after I submitted my cancellation ... so they could say I was approved and then cancelled ... to keep my $350. What a shoddy way to run a business.

P.S. Just today, I happened to find that Palm Coast Landing Senior Apartments is listed as a community with affordable housing. I was Googling to find out more about TCAP in the State of Florida. I saw "TCAP" at the bottom of the document the company supplied to the Better Business Bureau. Now, I find this most interesting in that the monthly rents listed are nothing like what I was told they would be. I was quoted $999/mo for the 1 bedroom carriage home; according to their website, the two different one bedrooms had monthly rents starting at $746/mo. Wouldn't a retired senior on social security of $1,156/mo qualify for the affordable rents, if available? And, is this community following the guidelines for TCAP in how they handle their applications ... and the non-refunding of the $350?

palm coast landing senior apartments affordable rent listing
Affordable rentals in Flagler County, Florida - Social Serve
I am even more unhappy with my experience at Palm Coast Landing Senior Apartments now that I have had their reply to the BBB complaint and now that I found this information about the actual affordable rents they are supposed to be charging.

Be careful if you consider renting there. Or, if you find another Concord Management Limited community. Not very friendly to seniors!!! Or, pets, for that matter ... if you have a cat, it will cost you $50 per month and that is non-refundable too!!

Read more about MY personal experience from my three blog posts along with the ripoff report:
  1. Palm Coast Landing Senior Apartments
  2. Seniors vs Crime in Florida
  3. Concord Management LTD Quite Contrary
  4. Palm Coast Landing Senior Apartments Ripoff Report

Monday, June 22, 2015

Palm Coast Landing Senior Apartments

This is my personal story of "trying" to rent a senior apartment recently at Palm Coast Landing Senior Apartments. I share how I felt that I was put through the ringer with all the personal and financial information requested by them and their management company. It took 8 days to get notice that I was finally approved for their carriage home, although that "just approved" notice came back in reply to my cancellation notice. The significance of that? If you were approved and cancelled, you would lose the $350 holding fee. I didn't realize that I would lose the $350 as I thought that money was to be applied to my $600 deposit should I actually lease a senior apartment at Palm Coast Landing. Bottom line, I do not recommend leasing a senior apartment with them.

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 - Google Maps
Jacksonville, Florida to Palm Coast, Florida
Courtesy Google Maps
On May 7, 2015, I drove to Palm Coast, Florida in order to see the new senior apartments at Palm Coast Landing. I was to talk with a leasing associate at a sister property, the Reserve at Brookhaven. It was before 10am when I arrived and was greeted by Kim Oliver an employee of Concord Management Ltd. I had emailed Alexis Miller, leasing professional with Concord, before my visit and was looking for her. She was busy so it was Kim Oliver who sat and talked with me. I was interested in the one bedroom units, Laguna and Reef, both of which rented for $746+. That amount of rent was in line with my monthly social security payment. However, Kim immediately began to promote a special she said they had going on for the one bedroom carriage homes. Those came with a garage and were $999/month currently. I expressed that was more than I was interested in for rent. [However, a few days later, I did email them back expressing interest in the carriage home offering.]

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.

palm coast landing senior apartments application fee palm coast landing senior apartments disputed holding fee

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!

palm coast landing senior apartments rental application

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.

palm coast landing senior apartments under construction may 7, 2015

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:
  1. Palm Coast Landing Senior Apartments BBB Complaint 
  2. Seniors vs Crime in Florida
  3. Concord Management LTD Quite Contrary
  4. Palm Coast Landing Senior Apartments Ripoff Report