Campus Habitat sues RPI for student notification

Troy Property Group claims damages over Rensselaer’s recommendation for students to leave housing

Recently, Troy Property Group, the company which owns all Campus Habitat facilities in the city, pressed charges against RPI regarding notifications and advice the Institute provided to students residing in their off-campus apartments. The property group is seeking financial reparations for alleged damages resulting from the actions taken by Rensselaer.

The actions in question center around one particular “Rensselaer Emergency Notification” dispersed earlier in the year by Associate Dean of Off-Campus Commons Cary Dresher. The notification provided a list of apparent offenses committed by Campus Habitat, including the claim that the company had not paid for utilities, taxes, or its mortgage. At the time, Dresher also urged students to suspend all payments to Campus Habitat, and, in some cases, to prematurely break their contracts. He stated that housing would be provided for affected students if necessary, and legal counsel was available for those who wished for it. Troy Property Group states that approximately 40 students out of the 242 RPI-affiliated tenants followed Dresher’s advice.

In the days following the alert, SEFCU—the financial institution with which Troy Property Group had been negotiating payments—filed a foreclosure action. RPI warned residents of Campus Habitat buildings that this could happen, citing a similar situation occurring in Carbondale, Illinois. Troy Property Group claims that this warning, along with additional communication between the Institute and SEFCU, was what actually led to the foreclosure rather than the financial issues Dresher listed in his notification.

According to reports by Courthouse News Service, Troy Property Group claims that “RPI maliciously, wrongfully, knowingly, intentionally, and without reasonable justification or excuse made such [defamatory] representations to place TPG in a negative light and to promote its own housing” in response to notification’s mention of available on-campus housing.

The supposed losses Troy Property Group has suffered come at a time when other housing companies have begun to stake their claim to the city. United Group of Companies, Inc., based in Troy, developed and opened the College Suites at City Station for graduate students last semester.

Additionally, three years ago, a Best Western hotel was converted to Blitman Residence Commons. Three years prior to Blitman’s opening, the Polytech Apartments were opened.

With this in mind, Troy Property Group is now seeking “treble damages and punitive damages for tortious interference with contract, tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, violation of New York general business law, and defamation,” as well as an injunction to prevent RPI from releasing future alerts such as the one sent out by Dresher.