U of M students misled into rent payments at unopened apartment, lawsuits claim

The fall semester is off to a rough start for hundreds of University of Minnesota students who can’t live in the apartments they rented.

Identity Dinkytown was supposed to open last month, but it’s still under construction and several students have now filed lawsuits claiming the owners fed them bad information and took their money.

The building was supposed to open last month and welcome 573 students, but there’s still work to be done.

A lot of the people who should be moved in now are especially upset because they found out about delays one day after management collected their rent.

Dinkytown bustled with activity on the first day of fall classes at the University of Minnesota. But the loudest sounds come from a drill along 14th Avenue.

Construction continues at the Identity Dinkytown mixed use apartment complex, well past the date students were told they could move in and even past the first rent payments being made.

"We got the notification that our August rent was due," said University of Minnesota student Luke Harris. "So we all paid it and then we got an email the next day saying that we're not actually moving in."

Harris is a senior who hoped he’d be getting his last year of college off to a fun start, but instead finds himself commuting from his parents’ home in Minnetonka every day.

The Delaware-based corporation that owns the building — CA Student Living Dinkytown II, LLC — offered residents two options: Stop paying rent and collect $150 a day for living expenses or keep paying and get placed in alternate housing, like a hotel, plus $80 a day.

But two lawsuits now claim the owners have misled students.

They say the owners knew they wouldn’t open on time, but collected rent anyway then sent notice the next day.

And they claim the building couldn’t possibly open as soon as mid-September, as the owners have claimed in updates sent to residents.

We checked with the city and the owners do not have a rental license, which is required.

They also don’t have a certificate of occupancy, which is a precursor to getting a rental license.

The owners filed court documents saying they only knew for sure they couldn’t open on time when their construction contractors confirmed it on Aug. 2.

And they say the same contractors are telling them mid-September is a possible opening day for at least one floor of the building.

In fact, as FOX 9 reported the story, students got an email from the owners pushing back the move-in date to late September for some of them and late October for the rest.

The students we talked to say they don’t even trust those dates.

Harris isn’t part of either lawsuit, but he’s asking for a couple of the same things: to get a refund for the rent he paid, and to be let out of his lease to start over somewhere else.

"It's just really bummed me out," he said of the current vibe. "It's just like you get a bunch of people talking about it and, they're all like, ‘oh, it's so sad.’ And the more and more you talk about it, it’s just not good, not a good feeling."

The university isn’t directly involved in this, but students who need help can reach out to Student Legal Services which actually helped file one of the lawsuits on behalf of a student.