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Humbucker Apartments Feb. 28
The Humbucker Apartments photographed on Feb. 28, 2024.

Tenant gives insight to living with one of Madison’s biggest property management companies

A tenant at Randall Park Rentals shared his experience with the rental company and its treatment of its tenants.

Soggy ceilings and sealed pipes.

That’s what living with Madison-based rental company Randall Park Rentals (RPR) is like, according to a resident.

Noah — who requested The Daily Cardinal omit his last name in fear of retaliation from the company — said his experience with RPR was fine on a “day-to-day” basis, but any contact that needed to be done with management was “a pain.”

Just two days after RPR announced on Feb. 27 it would offer residents a $25 rent credit for four- and five-star Google reviews, the incentive came to a close.

“Thank you for your recent input,” the property management company told a resident in a Feb. 29 email. “The review and referral campaigns have ended.”

Noah said his apartment had water damage on the ceiling that was never fixed, frequent water shutoffs with little notice and fire drills that tenants were not told about.

“We were charged with a good chunk of our security deposit for our ceiling having water damage, which they claimed was somehow due to our use of the apartment,” he said. “I don’t know how I would manage to get that much water damage on the ceiling without dumping a glass of water on it daily.”

Noah said he was eventually able to get the money back, but not before almost a month of “terribly rude” emailing and a little bit of good fortune.

“I was very lucky in that a grad student I know happened to live at the same unit that I was living in like five years prior,” he said. “They had to replace her entire ceiling because of this water damage and that was able to work for us and show that this is a recurring issue that they don’t fix.”

Noah also said there was mold in the apartment when he moved in, but maintenance took care of it “pretty quickly.”

Tenants in Madison are eligible for rent abatements if problems are not fixed within an appropriate time frame, according to the city of Madison.

Noah said RPR also ran a lengthy fire drill without prior notification, frightening his roommate’s cat.

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“They were supposed to let us know that this was happening, and they didn’t,” he said. “The cat was absolutely losing its mind. Very panicked. She was very afraid and it was really sad to see.”

Noah said RPR would frequently shut off water with little to no notice, including one time while he was in the shower. 

Randall Park’s review campaign faces scrutiny

Paul Matthews, a member of independent tenant union Madison Tenant Power (MTP), told the Cardinal the review campaign was “bogus.”

“I can’t say [it was] entirely unexpected,” Matthews said. “There’s no room for ethics or morals when your entire pursuit is to make as much money as possible. They’re just trying to bump their numbers up as high as possible, and bring in more folks even if their behavior management doesn’t necessarily warrant it.”

Matthews said this isn’t the first time he’s seen this happen, and he thinks the campaign was shut down quickly for RPR to “cover their asses.”

“I don’t know if you checked the reviews, but it is now completely full of people being like, ‘Hey they’re paying for reviews,’” Matthews said. “I don’t trust any of these positive reviews because there’s no way for you to tell if it’s actually a legitimate positive testimonial or not.”

Matthews said management companies “abusing trust and manipulating the systems for their own gain” is dangerous for future generations who may not be aware of the campaign.

“It screws over everyone,” he added. “It’d be cool if the review platforms had some sort of enforcement mechanism.”

For tenants who wrote negative reviews about the company, Matthews said that retaliation by the landlord is illegal. 

MTP is drafting a tenant bill of rights which will require documentation by landlords to justify lease non-renewal, which Matthews said is a common way to get around retaliation laws.

Until then, Matthews recommends only writing negative reviews under a fake or alternative account.

“That’s just the landscape that we live in when it comes to tenants and landlords,” Matthews said.

Randall Park did not respond to a request for comment.

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