(WSVN) - A group of University of Miami students thought it was bad being forced to live in a hotel while their apartments were finished. But now that they’ve moved in, they say it’s even worse. Karen Hensel has tonight’s 7 Investigates.

The pictures tell the story inside the Cloisters apartments. A sewage backup pushing feces into bathtubs, overflowing the toilets and filling kitchen sinks.

This UM student did not want to appear on camera but shared these pictures and video of her brand-new apartment.

Anonymous UM student: “And I came back to see this, and there was no way to stop it. I used all my towels, all my friends’ towels, everything. And then I called the emergency contact, and no one answered it.”

Human waste coming from plumbing is a common concern.

Gianna: “We currently have feces coming out of our kitchen sink, and we’re trying to get someone on it.”

Celeste Fisher says her bathroom is also a mess.

Celeste Fisher, UM junior: “We don’t have shower-heads either. And when we tried to shower out of the hole, there was gunk coming out of the shower.”

Karen Hensel: “What kind of gunk?”

Celeste Fisher: “It was like almost like a brown sandy substance.”

But it’s not just plumbing problems plaguing the students.

Alyssa: “We don’t have window shades, we don’t have any blinds.”

Anonymous UM student: “I tried to open my closet door, and it fell off on top of me. So we used the closet door to block the window.”

Some students say they have no locks on their doors, which is a safety concern for both them and their parents.

One parent wrote on Facebook, “Construction workers can see into every window and door,” saying the complex has placed “…Hundreds of students in unlivable and potentially deadly conditions.”

Karen Hensel: “Do you feel safe here?”

Anonymous student: “No, I’m not sleeping here anymore.”

Celeste Fisher: “No, not at all. God, no.”

Gianna Rettew: “No, absolutely not.”

Alyssa Mirenda: “Our front door is like rotting, rotting off. Someone could kick it down.”

Brooke Harrison: “No, it’s not good.”

Landmark Properties owns the Cloisters and tells 7 Investigates, “The health and safety of our residents is our top priority. We are addressing work orders as quickly as we are able and by level of priority.”

If it is bad enough students cannot live in their apartment, Landmark says they are “…providing alternate accommodations.”

Records show Miami-Dade County did issue a temporary certificate of occupancy.

How or why? We don’t know, because the county has not responded.

But we were there when a team of county inspectors arrived this week.

Meanwhile, students tell us the situation is taking a toll.

Celeste Fisher: “It’s already put so much stress on me, so much stress on my parents, like, I’m getting behind in school. I can’t – I feel like I can’t live, you know? It really sucks.”

Karen: “What is this doing to your schoolwork?”

Alyssa Mirenda: “It’s like midterms right now, so we’re having a hard time. We’re more worried about the feces in our sink than studying.”

Some parents have hired attorneys and sent lease termination letters. Others are simply trying to find a place anywhere other than here for their students to live and study.

Karen Hensel, 7News.

Miami-Dade County RER released the following statement to 7 News:

Last week, the Miami-Dade County’s building official overseeing permitting for the unincorporated portion of the county received inquiries from concerned parents of students residing at the Cloisters housing development, after a sewage line blockage was reported at one of the buildings located near the University of Miami Campus.

The affected building is one of two that have been undergoing renovations by the contractor, Landmark Construction LLC, located at 5830 SW 57 Avenue, with four dwelling units affected by the blockage.

The contractor applied for a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO) from Miami-Dade County as it continued to work on finalizing details. The contractor opted to use a private provider for inspections, Universal Engineering Sciences, as permitted by state law, in lieu of the County, to perform all site inspections necessary to confirm compliance with the building code, up to and including the TCO. Miami-Dade County’s Building Official issued the TCO on Friday, September 19, 2023, based on the inspection approval and recommendations provided by Universal Engineering Sciences, which recommended the TCO be issued and allow occupancy.

On Tuesday morning, September 26th, and based on the complaints received, Miami-Dade County building inspectors of all trades were on site to meet with the private provider and the contractor to inspect the complaints and the current on-site conditions. The contractor provided Miami-Dade County with a list of action items to address the problems, which included clearing the blockage and videoing all sewer lines. Any additional work necessary to remedy the problems found will require additional permitting and inspections.

State law gives a project owner the right to choose a third-party private inspection company instead of using the local building official.  In this case, the building official assumes an audit role.  The County is conducting a full audit of the private provider’s services to make sure that all required inspections for the project were performed and the personnel sent to inspect have the proper credentials, are employees of the private provider company, and maintain the proper level of professional liability insurance, as required by law.


Copyright 2023 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox