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Off-campus housing nightmare: Hundreds of college students still unable to move into new apartments

Catalyst Midtown Apartments blames the City of Atlanta for delaying a certificate of occupancy; students, who signed leases for an August move-in, aren’t buying it.

ATLANTA — Hundreds of students who moved from across the country to attend Atlanta colleges and live in an off-campus apartment complex are still not able to move into their new apartments.

It’s been weeks since their original move-in dates, and they said management is not telling them when the units will be ready.

Management at Catalyst Apartments on Northside Drive at 10th Street is still blaming the City of Atlanta for not yet issuing a certificate of occupancy.

Students, living like nomads, they said, and unable to get out of their Catalyst leases, no longer believe anything management tells them. 

This is not how Sydney Madden imagined what moving to Atlanta from Seattle to attend Georgia State University would be like.

“When you walk in our room, there’s a couch but it’s filled with lots of stuff, as you see,” she said, pointing to the open suitcases spread out on the couch and on the floor of her hotel room, and worried about hotel security -- or lack of it.

“I mean, it’s scary having just all your stuff here,” she said.

Credit: WXIA
Sydney Madden

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She and hundreds of other students who travelled to Atlanta to attend Georgia State, Morehouse College, Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, and other colleges, are still living out of suitcases, moving from hotel to hotel as vacancies allow.

“We are constantly getting lied to,” Madden said.

As for the students who have been able to move into part of the apartment complex, many are posting photos and videos online showing door handles falling off, water dripping from light fixtures in the shower ceilings, washing machines that don’t drain, and cars broken into because the parking-deck security gate doesn’t work.

Madden said she and others tried to get out of their leases this past Monday, since it had been 30 days, but she said management told them they’d need to hire attorneys to try to cancel the leases.

The latest letter from management, dated Monday, September 13, tells students that the City of Atlanta is delaying issuing a certificate of occupancy, and so “we cannot give you exact timing for your move-in.”

However, Madden doesn't believe it.

“They’re lying to us, they keep saying it’s the City. And all our hopes” to set up their new apartments and focus on their studies and on their college activities “were just, like, crushed” because of the upheaval and uncertainty of living “like nomads.”

“This has never happened to any of us before, because this is the first time we’re all living on our own, for some of us, and it’s just like--Wow.”

11Alive is working to reach Catalyst management and the City of Atlanta.

The father of one student said his daughter and others are going to have to move again out of their current hotel on Monday. Catalyst finds and choose the hotels and pays for the rooms, all while the students are paying for apartments they can’t occupy.