Co-living firm Common barraged by complaints: report

Allegations include lousy maintenance, poor security and surprise roommates

Brad Hargreaves, CEO, Common Living (Common Living, iStock)
Brad Hargreaves, CEO, Common Living (Common Living, iStock/Photo Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)

Tenants have something in common at Common Living’s communal spaces: nightmarish experiences, according to a published report.

More than a dozen tenants went on the record to describe their experiences at Common buildings across the country, the Daily Beast reported. Alleged issues include unaddressed vomit, fighting roommates, poor communication, lengthy maintenance delays and lax security.

“It’s been probably one of the worst experiences living somewhere I’ve ever had in my 38 years on this planet,” Will Oliver told the website.

At one Oakland location, an occupant allegedly posted on a company app: “I want to block the emergency exits and I want to set a fire and watch you all burn and hear you all scream in agony,” yet the company brushed off the threat and ignored complaints of the occupant’s behavior for months, tenants alleged.

Police were eventually called in. The man no longer resides at the building.

A company spokesperson told the outlet that it takes “every step to fix the situations we can control in our buildings,” but deflected blame on behavioral issues to the residents.

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Communication issues were at the heart of various complaints. Some tenants said they weren’t warned when new residents would move into the shared space, creating concerns when strangers appeared. Additionally, residents alleged it would take weeks or months for maintenance requests to be addressed, if they ever were.

Common’s CEO, Brad Hargreaves, said the company has doubled its support team to respond to requests faster. Hargreaves also said the increase in working from home might have contributed to rising tensions between roommates.

Common was founded in 2015. Tenants in its buildings live in suites with other roommates, sharing common areas, including kitchens and sometimes bathrooms. Common has raised more than $100 million.

The company has 7,000 units under management, according to the Daily Beast. About half are co-living spaces.

The company serves more as a designer and operator of spaces than as a developer. Common signs management agreements, rather than traditional leases with landlords.

Last year, Common reached an agreement with former rival Starcity to take over management of much of the latter’s portfolio across the globe. The deal came shortly after Starcity acquired Ollie, another co-living startup.

[The Daily Beast] — Holden Walter-Warner