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Austin hopes lease property registry ends rental woes

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It was a move-in day nightmare for some college students over the weekend when they say they were met with horrible conditions at two apartment complexes off east Riverside.

Sunday was move in day for hundreds of college students in the Austin area. Some tenants at University Estates say they are not getting what was promised and this isn't the only apartment dealing with complaints.

Meanwhile, the city hopes that developing a rental property registry will take care of some of these problems.

Move in day at The Edge at East End Apartments Sunday did not go as expected for some tenants.

"I opened the door...I couldn't speak. There were no words for what I saw because what I saw was that awful," said Lauren Ballestas from Killeen.

She and her roommate say they walked into their apartment to find animal feces on the floor and some on the wall...they sent FOX 7 photos of that, along with dirty carpet and burn marks left on an exterior wall.

"We paid rent August 1 and we didn't move in till August 18 because they said they were going to do maintenance on the house with our rent money, nothing was even done," said Megan Prehn from Killeen.

Property management at The Edge refused to comment and asked FOX 7 to leave the property. Around the corner at University Estates, residents also say the conditions did not meet expectations.

"I thought I could make the best of it and everything kept piling up and piling up and I just eventually said, this is unacceptable, I can't do this," said Connor Jaksik from Houston.

Jaksik showed FOX 7 pictures of what he says looks like vomit left on his window and pieces of the flooring missing.

"It's not what they told us we were going to get," Jaksik said.

New tenants at University Estates who FOX 7 spoke with say they are considering breaking their lease, but were told by property management that legal action could be taken against them.

"Our hope is that when those tenants talk to their manager or landlord that landlord will step up and say we will get you a cleaner apartment and make the repairs that are necessary, said Austin City Council member Kathie Tovo.

Several Austin City Council members including Kathie Tovo would like to see a rental registration program established in order to protect tenants from living in unsafe or unclean living conditions.

Rental properties would be required to register with the city and be inspected on a regular basis.

"We do have a large number of tenants who are living in what are potentially unsafe, hazardous, unhealthy conditions and it's necessary to make sure as a city we're being as proactive as we need to," Tovo said.

FOX 7 left a message for the property management at University Estates, but have not received a comment.

The two girls who were supposed to move into the Edge apartments were able to break their lease and are hoping to find somewhere else to live.

According to the City's Code Compliance Department, investigators can enter an apartment if invited by a tenant. Something like feces would be considered unsanitary conditions and management could be cited.

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