Taylor Bend, an apartment complex that mainly houses students from the University of Mississippi, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, leaving current residents in limbo.
Residents repeatedly reported unresponsive management, poor living conditions, and numerous water and power outages.
Deunte Ragland, a junior major in commerce at the University of Mississippi, lived in Taylor Bend from August 2020 to June 2021 and had countless issues with management.
“It was horrible,” Ragland said. “The managers never answered the phone… my air conditioner and dishwasher broke down in April and were never fixed. We filed several maintenance requests and even called them and got no response.
The Taylor Bend apartment complex on Old Taylor Road was scheduled to be auctioned on August 4 due to the foreclosure, after L’Aigle d’Oxford. But Nelson Partners, the owners of Taylor Bend, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy 30 minutes early.
Nelson Partners did not respond to repeated requests for an interview.
According to Courts of the United States, Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code generally provides for a reorganization, generally involving a company or a partnership. A Chapter 11 debtor typically comes up with a reorganization plan to keep their business alive and pay creditors over time.
During the year that Ragland lived there, he was never able to access the gym or the swimming pool. The apartment complex’s swimming pool is dark green. Ragland also said the complex was always covered in trash and the grass was never cut.
Jertonya Mays lived at the resort for over two years and when she started having issues with an unstable roommate who made her feel unsafe, her requests to change roommates or rooms were ignored. Even though it was property management that initially put them together, management told him there was nothing they could do.
“The management is poor and the property manager and assistant really don’t help,” Mays said.
Last July, the gravity of the situation became evident to residents when all 80 units lost water and electricity.
“We tried for weeks in early or mid-July to contact the Taylor Bend Apartment complex regarding the overdue bills, which had been two months past due. We have not received any response from Taylor Bend, ”said Rob Neely, Managing Director of Oxford Utilities.
On July 21, Oxford Utilities disconnected water, sewer and sanitation services from the Taylor Bend apartments and single office building. Hours later, Oxford Utilities was informed that there was a potential new owner of the complex and that payment would be made.
“We restored the water service the same day, July 21, before noon. The payment was made in full shortly after, ”explains Neely. “It turns out there was no new owner, but the utility payment was made by a bank with a financial interest in the complex.”
Despite the restoration of water services, residents still said they had no electricity. Nichole Lloyd, a resident of the resort for a year, said she had not had electricity for a whole month.
Alderman Brian Hyneman met with residents to provide answers on the condition of the complex before the owners declared bankruptcy. Hyneman assured residents that while the resort does not pay its utility bill, the resort’s utilities will remain intact.
“I understand the owner has not done anything about communication,” Hyneman said.
Adam Lalejini lived at Taylor Bend from August 2020 to August 2021 and said management did not attempt to contact students about the ongoing issues.
“The only communication residents received from property management was an email saying Taylor Bend was ‘under construction’,” Lalejini said. “It was not until Alderman Brian Hyneman met the residents that they received information about what was going on.”
Residents of Taylor Bend in her final months continually wondered what was going on in their apartments and what the future held for them.
“That was most of the information residents had received from anyone at this point,” said Lalejini, “but it left many of us incredibly nervous about the implications it would have for our leases, especially that my roommates and I renewed our contract in January for the 2021-22 academic year.
On August 10, Lalejini heard a leak from the air conditioning unit. After opening the air conditioning unit closet, “the smell of damp, moldy earth was overwhelming.”
The plywood panel under the unit had absorbed all of the water, causing excessive leaks.
“Moisture had spread over the walls and into the carpets. Soon after, fungi were growing through the floor and onto the carpet, ”Lalejin said.
Lalejini began to feel the physical effects of his tainted unit and said his eyes were burning constantly. After filing an emergency request, he received no response from management.
“The repairs to be done were substantial,” said Lalejini, “All the while the rest of the property was falling into increasing disrepair. Several other units in our building were ransacked, abandoned and left unlocked. Garbage was piled up on balconies, stairs and strewn in the parking lots. “
Lalejini and her roommates sought legal advice and were able to terminate their lease for health and safety reasons. They were also able to find a vacant apartment complex.
“We were lucky, but I can’t help but sympathize with all the other residents who tried to move out next week, who probably had nowhere to live other than the neglected Taylor Bend apartments,” Lalejini said.
Desiree Hensley, director of the Housing Clinic at the University of Mississippi, said in an email that she had received several calls from residents of Taylor Bend. The Housing Clinic assists individuals or families facing eviction or foreclosure.
Residents’ claims for mismanagement predate any indication of foreclosure or bankruptcy. Google reviews for the property from two years ago reveal reports of mold, dirt and difficulty getting management to respond to maintenance requests.
Nelson Partners owns 20 student housing complexes across the country with residents complaining about similar issues. Google reviews for The Alpine Flats apartment complex near Utah State University revealed that residents had no internet access or hot water for weeks and that maintenance requests were hardly ever completed.
“Maintenance requests are not a priority, even when made as an emergency level request,” Lauren Broadhead, a former resident, wrote in a review from Google.
According to a New York Times report from May 18, 2021, Nelson Partners has been accused of running a “Ponzi scheme” with the Skyloft Austin Student Housing complex, in which investors were impressed by a brilliant skyscraper. Investors told The New York Times they were “taken in by a group of professional real estate investors who have raised tens of millions of dollars from people like them to finance the purchase of the student dormitory.” Investors told the New York Times they didn’t know where the money went or who owned the building today.
In a statement to the New York Times, Nelson Partners denies any wrongdoing and blames the company’s financial difficulties on the pandemic and on the hedge fund company that financed the building.
Hyneman said he had received several calls from parents of students who had leases, but wanted to back down after seeing the condition of the complex. He said many residents have left the complex, although he does not have specific numbers.
“Although bankrupt, the complex continues to function, as bad as it is. If a resident chooses to stay, the lease must be honored, ”Hyneman said.