By Maddison Cervantes

After a quick construction process, Ponderosa Village is finally up and running, housing graduate students here on the University of Nevada, Reno campus.

Ponderosa has been open for three short weeks and the management office has already begun to hear complaints.

Katie Overton, a grad student who resides at the Village has had a frustrating experience during her time there. Overton signed her lease in March 2014, eager to get ahead of the game, she agreed to a 979 -square-foot apartment costing $580 per month.

“When assigned to my apartment, I noticed that it was a 923 square foot unit,” Overton said. Confused, Overton contacted management asking for an explanation. “They told me that they were reserving the larger units for handicapped residents,” Overton said.

She then noticed through the Ponderosa website that the price for the apartments had dropped from $580 to $550 a month.

When she moved in, Overton realized that her roommate, who had signed her lease months after she did, was paying the $550 per month for the same space.

“I just want to know why I am paying $360 more a year than my roommate who has the same space that I do and why tenants who signed up two weeks before move in date have the larger apartments,” Overton said.

Emily Brennick, another resident at Ponderosa, signed up early as well. She is paying $580 a month, and also has a roommate who received the $550 discount. “I don’t have much to complain about,” Brennick said.

She has just moved from Maine to earn her PhD at UNR and is grateful to be residing at such a good location. “What did annoy me is that after I signed my lease I would still get emails advertising the cheaper prices,” Brennick said.

Although the emails were received, Brennick was not eligible for the discount. Mike Cutler, a leasing agent with Ponderosa, explained that management’s policies, although seemingly unfair, do in fact have reasoning behind them.

According to Cutler, Ponderosa Village has a one-year lease that starts on August 1, 2014 and lasts until the end of July 2015. By signing this lease, tenants have already committed to paying the amount of rent stated in the contract.

Therefore they cannot (or will not) issue refunds to tenants like Overton.“If this was a month-to-month lease, I would agree that they would be entitled to a refund of the difference,” Cutler said. “There is nothing we can do to adjust the pricing because it’s an actual lease agreement and price in which they agreed to.”

He relates it to buying a house. “Sometimes people buy a house and then a month later, the house next to them sells for $30,000 less,” Cutler said. “They can’t go back to the previous owner and ask for a refund.”

Ponderosa is a one-year lease, and each tenant agreed to a certain price. “We realized that it would be better in the future to offer incentives for those who signed up early rather than waiting until the last minute,” Cutler said.

This is when the $550 price was issued. They decided to offer a window of cheaper prices for a short period of time in order to get the units filled up and the construction moving faster.

“It was not a price change, it was a temporary price discount. This is what a lot of tenants do not understand,” Cutler said. This tactic protects tenants from both a price increase and a price decrease. If the price is raised on one of the units, which, according to Cutler, is very likely, the people who have already signed will not be affected.

This will also protect management to not lose money when the price decreases and also ensures Ponderosa is stable for years to come.

The Village has had fewer complaints from those who have taken the price variations personally. “We try to explain it the best we can. But it adds up  to a difference that is $360 year, and that is not what tenants want to hear,” Cutler said.

Although Ponderosa is well aware of the price issues, financing requires that these leases are set in place in order to make it stable for the years to come.

Maddison Cervantes can be reached at mcervantes@sagebrush.unr.edu.