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Student faces possible eviction after roommate's death

The Forum Apartments sign as seen on Dec. 7 on Appian Way.

Rockwood junior Amy Miller is facing possible eviction from her apartment after her roommate, Iron River junior Molly Sheehan, died in a Montcalm County car accident Nov. 23. 

Miller had been living with Sheehan in a two-bedroom apartment at The Forum Apartments since May, each paying $345 a month for rent. 

On Nov. 27, Miller received a letter in the mail from Princeton Enterprises, the parent company of Princeton Management Company, which manages the Forum Apartments, giving her an ultimatum: find a roommate by Dec. 31 or vacate the property. 

“We are very sorry about the loss of your roommate,” the letter stated. “With respect to your apartment, we happily allow you the month of December to find a new roommate to qualify for residency at the Forum.”

The letter, signed by Corporate Counsel Carolyn Cohen, stated that in the event Miller had to vacate the property, she would be released from her lease agreement without any cancellation fees. 

"In a regular situation, if someone left before their lease was up, they could be charged for the remainder of the lease, but we would never do that in this situation," Cohen said.

There is no set standard procedure for when a tenant dies, Cohen said. That is handled on a case-by-case basis. The company waived Sheehan's rent for December. Miller was only responsible for her own portion of rent for the month. 

"We want to keep our tenants. We try our best to work with them, but there's no set standard," Cohen said. "Every situation is an individual situation, which we look at."

After this story was published Princeton Management released a statement on social media. It reads, in part: "Ms. Miller has never faced eviction, not has this company ever contemplated evicting her. Rather, the company has given Ms. Miller the opportunity to find a new roommate, break her lease without penalty or propose any other resolution to assist her through this difficult time." 

Forum Property Manager Melissa Callison said she has advocated for Miller in this situation.

"I actually pushed as far as I could push with getting (Miller) those 30 days," Callison said. She noted that a 30-day standard is typical, although she also pushed for the waived rent.

Miller and her friend Chesterfield senior Josh Palmer expressed the kindness and sympathy received from the local management at the Forum.

“The people at the desk have been nothing but supportive and sympathetic about everything," said Palmer, who is also a tenant at the Forum. "There’s no doubt in my mind that if it were up to them, it would go the complete other way."

With a few pieces of Sheehan’s furniture still in the apartment, Miller said she had to rearrange everything so that it was less of a painful reminder. However, Miller is now in search of a new roommate while still mourning Sheehan's death. 

“There’s just this realization of oh, she’s not going to be back home,” Miller said. 

Miller said she would prefer to stay in her apartment, however, she has had no luck finding a roommate to move in with her to finish out her lease which ends in May 2019. While she said she has friends who would gladly move in with her next year, Miller said the issue has been finding someone to move in for just the spring semester. 

“I’d rather choose somebody that I know, but at this point I have less than a month to find somebody to live in the same apartment I’m in or I have to figure out a way to go back to the dorms,” Miller said.

If she were to move out, Miller said she was looking at moving back into a Central Michigan University Residence Hall, which has also been a challenge.

“A lot of people are already set for where they’re living next semester” she said.

In the midst of losing her close friend and roommate and having to find a solution to her housing situation, Miller is preparing for final exams.

"It’s been really difficult,”she said. 

For Miller, coping has meant spending time with her improvisation group, After Hours Improv, a group Sheehan was also heavily involved in. 

“We’re all kind of feeling that sadness and anger over it happening to any of us in the group,” she said. “But having us all together and get together and talk about and have good times and continue like Molly would have wanted us to, is really helping.”