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By Rachael Myer
Arizona Daily Wildcat
May 6, 1998

Skyview residents facing problems

At least a half-dozen students forced out of their homes by a fire at a university-area apartment complex last month say the smoke and flames were only the beginning of their problems.

Susan Ferrell, Associated Students legal adviser, said residents of Sky View Apartments, 1050 E. Eighth St., have been flocking to her in recent weeks, saying the complex's managers have not promptly refunded their rent or adequately helped them find alternative housing.

Chris Giberson, an animal sciences senior and former Sky View resident, said he and his roommate deserve to be refunded $696, which includes three weeks rent and the security deposit, but Glenda Wenzel, Sky View's area supervisor, told him they will get a $429 refund.

"I feel what I was asking for was money back from a service that I didn't receive," said Giberson, whose first-floor apartment was gutted by the April 8 fire. "I think that is more than fair."

Ferrell said not all residents have received full reimbursements, and a handful of students have complained to her about problems securing rent refunds since the fire.

"I have written a letter on behalf of a resident and received a check that included a rent refund from April 19 to April 30, despite the fact in my letter I requested that he would receive a refund from April 8," Ferrell said. "Anybody who was being fair would use the date of the fire, since they weren't able to live there from that point on."

The landlord is required by law, Ferrell said, to return the security deposit and refund rent beginning the day the tenant vacates.

Wenzel said refunds mailed last week were calculated from the day of the fire and included the security deposit. She said tenants who believe they did not receive a full refund can ask her to verify it for them.

Giberson said when he returned to Sky View April 8 to find that his home had been destroyed by fire, manager Judy Miske told him he would be homeless "for a few days."

Giberson said Miske told him it would be difficult to know when tenants could move back, and that they had the option of moving to other complexes owned by the company or into vacant rooms in the same building.

But the other complexes, Giberson said, were far from campus, making that option impractical for him.

After deciding to move into a vacant room in the same building, Giberson said he tried unsuccessfully on two occasions to make moving arrangements with the complex's management.

He said the first time he tried, Miske gave him the "run-around," and the second time she tried to charge him the same for living with three roommates as when he lived with one.

Miske refused comment yesterday, but Wenzel said Giberson may have been asked to pay more for the second apartment because it was a different unit.

Giberson decided to live with a friend until the summer pre-session begins, when he will move into a University of Arizona residence hall.

"We think it is unfortunate that they had a fire, but it is their responsibility to take care of their customer," Giberson said. "They weren't handling the problem head-on."

Another resident, political science junior Alexandra Tsosie, also said the managers did not do a good job helping her find replacement housing.

"She (Miske) should have found a place for us to stay," Tsosie said. "My school work suffered a lot and still is."

Tsosie estimated the ordeal has cost her about $800, including a deposit for a new apartment, last month's rent, eating out repeatedly, storage and gas.

Miske frequently changed the dates the residents could move back in and made it difficult for tenants to retrieve personal items, Tsosie said.

"If she (Miske) was in a good mood, she would let you grab stuff," she said.

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