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March 23, 2009 | by  | in News |
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uStay shit misses fan, hits couch instead

The Victoria University of Wellington hall of residence formerly known as Unicomm has once again come under scrutiny from residents for its lackadaisical approach to maintenance.

Several residents at the recently re-branded “uStay” hostel, which encompasses Cumberland House and McKenzies Apartments, have disclosed to Salient a number of grievances concerning the upkeep of the two halls.

Of particular note were a number of persistent leaks within the McKenzie’s building, including one from a sewage pipe, which, according to residents, dripped unabated with the consistency of a “running tap” for a day before being tended to.

Despite maintenance repairing the leak, the all-encompassing aroma of sewage pervaded the apartment “for at least two weeks.” “[uStay] sent someone up the next day to sort it out, which was good. But then we had this god-awful smell,” said one affected resident.

“They wouldn’t admit that it was sewage, but it was definitely bathroom water of some kind.”

The fetid water soaked through both the carpet in the apartment’s living room as well as a nearby couch. The residents informed uStay management of the situation, and its response was unenthusiastic.
“After about three or four days they sent someone around with a vacuum cleaner to do a once over of the carpet, and mop the kitchen where it hadn’t even leaked, and that was it. The smell was still there, still as strong,” said the resident.

“The cleaner herself was having trouble doing it too, it smelt that bad. She said to us, ‘You’ve got to do something about this, this is bad,’ and we have tried. We ended up just getting a fan in here for a few days to try make this place smell normal.”

Last year, Salient reported on a number of embarrassing maintenance issues at the ING Real Estate-owned buildings, including flooding, mould and sewage leakage.

Some residents protested outside the hall on Victoria’s Study at Vic Day, forcing Unicomm management to cancel tours of the hostel.

Despite the wealth of negative publicity, uStay Village Director Victoria Hay insists the decision to re-brand was purely stylistic.

“Our intention was always to change our name to uStay Urban Apartments. In fact, much of the signage was changed in the middle of last year, but only formally changed as at 1 December 2008,” Hay said.

“The intention was to have a brand that related well to our core business (student accommodation) as well as provide a brand to allow us to market and operate a summer hotel over the periods when the students are not in residence.”

The stylish re-branding also included a more dedicated approach from management to addressing residents’ concerns.

“We have put in place a number of steps [for addressing concerns], but two of note includes the election of a Residents Association which will meet on a regular basis, as well as the appointment of an Operations Manager to assist the Manager in the Hall,” Hay said.

Hay was also conscious of the current crop of maintenance issues, but was insistent upon standards and practices being rigorously applied within the two buildings.

“Maintenance issues are prioritised according to the severity of the issue. For those that are urgent, there should be a response within four hours.”

“There have been some leaks in Cumberland House and McKenzies. These are not related to last year and are new leaks. They are now fixed and the residents involved were kept fully informed,” she said.

However, when asked by Salient if uStay management had made an attempt to engage ongoing repair work, the residents of the sewage-soaked apartment denied having received further contact.

“The stuff with the leak happened at the start of our second week here, and we haven’t heard anything from them since,” a resident said.

“We’ve just been totally left in the dark.”

The residents had not ruled out the possibility of initiating legal proceedings against uStay should the policy of silence be maintained.

“We should get compensation for this,” another resident said.

“We have to live in it and we still have to pay rent, and they haven’t said anything to us about fixing the problem properly, or even apologising for the mess so far. It really pisses me off.”

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Kia ora, biography box, kia ora.

Comments (2)

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  1. Cal says:

    Ha ha ha ha ha Uniconn strikes again. Like Obama says, “you can put a pig in lipstick; it’s still a pig!”

  2. Gohan_Aro_01 says:

    HAH. Obama would be making love to the pig in a room in Ustay – and loving it – if I ever got my hands on him.

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