Hendricks Investments Building

Hendricks Investments building on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022 in State College, Pa.

Editor’s note: Some names of individuals interviewed for this story have been changed to protect their identities. The Daily Collegian has verified through fact-checking that all of the anonymous individuals interviewed for this story are current or former Penn State students.

Two days after moving into her house in State College, Penn State student Sally, who wished to remain anonymous, walked into her roommate’s bedroom after thinking she heard a rushing sound.

The ceiling had collapsed, and the bedroom was flooded with rainwater that “poured” down, Sally said.

When her roommates Mary and Katie, other Penn State students who wished to remain anonymous, moved in, the three attempted to contact Hendricks Investments — a local real estate agency operated by landlord Rodney Hendricks.

The roommates said it was “impossible” to get ahold of Hendricks Investments’ management over the phone.

Sally, Mary and Katie said they ended up going to the office in person — where they were told if they took legal action against Hendricks, they would need to “pay for his lawyer,” according to their lease.

Within the first week of living in their house, Sally said they noticed a myriad of different habitability issues — the ceiling caved in, the windows weren’t insulated, the basement was flooded, the spray-painted male genitals on their walls weren't covered up and others.

“The place was a f---ing pigsty,” Sally said. “It was so disgusting.”

Sally said she was the first of the three roommates to arrive at the property, and she said she believes Hendricks ignored the mess prior to their move-in date.

“I knew [Hendricks] was there right before I got there because the dishwasher was running,” Sally said. “He obviously saw [the issues] and was like, ‘Oh, whatever.’”

Mary, Sally and Katie haven’t been the only tenants who have had trouble with Hendricks and his properties — for more than two decades, Hendricks has appeared as the defendant in several lawsuits.

According to the Centre County Prothonotary’s Office, Hendricks has 105 total records associated with his name and Hendricks Investments — 67 naming him the defendant, 38 naming him the plaintiff.

In 1997, a corporation formerly known as RNR Construction Company subcontracted Hendricks and his former company H & S Painters for a painting project at Penn State, according to court documents.

The documents described Hendricks' work as “negligent” and “careless,” and it “provided poor, improper and defective workmanship.”

Hendricks and his former team allegedly oversprayed flooring, windows, office chairs, a condensation pump and other university property, causing $1,268.36 of damage, court documents said.

While continuing subcontracting for RNR Construction Company, Hendricks and his team also allegedly caused a State College borough building’s roof to leak, according to court documents.

The total amount for the lawsuit was $5,806.26 — the combination of interests, the cost of the suit and damages.

Dylan, a current Penn State student who wished to remain anonymous, said he believes Hendricks is “an edgy kind of guy.”

Dylan said the house he lives in has many issues, and he and his roommates believe it should be “leveled.”

From infestations of mold to blown out circuits and deafening radiators, Dylan said the house isn’t worth the amount of money they are paying for it, but Hendricks is “hard to deal with.”

“We’re already assuming he’s going to withhold our security deposit,” Dylan said.

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In 2001, eight Penn State students attempted to break their lease with Hendricks after they developed health issues, according to The Daily Collegian archives.

Hendricks then sued the tenants for breaking their lease.

The students discovered untreated leaks in their house and basement, leading to water damage and mold growth throughout the house, according to The Daily Collegian archives.

The issues were “preexisting and persisting” while they lived there, the students said — a pattern displayed within several court cases involving Hendricks.

Sally, Katie and Mary said they’ve had persistent issues with animals entering their house.

One night, Mary said something repeatedly brushed against her face, waking her up — a bat. The three tenants said they’ve found several others lying or flying around — dead or alive.

“It was like a kiss goodnight,” Mary said.

After contacting Hendricks’ management, the employee on the phone told the girls the animals were squirrels, not bats.

“I think we could tell the difference between a squirrel and a bat,” Mary said.

Sally also said the girls’ basement was flooded with several inches of sewer water when she arrived to move in.

Sally, Mary and Katie said they received an email three days later regarding the sewage issue.

“We are requesting that you not flush your tampons down the toilet,” Hendricks Investments said in the email. “They belong in the garbage, and you are clogging the sewer.”

“What did they think biologically could be going on that we’re going through so many tampons to clog an entire sewer in three days?” Mary said.

When the maintenance arrived to fix the sewer issue in the basement, Katie said they simply turned on a regular fan.

“Guess who paid for the fan that was running all night to dry the sewage?” Katie said. “It was us.”

Additionally, Sally said when she moved in, she noticed mold in their fridge, above the showers and in the sink.

According to Sally, the roommates believe the “black mold” caused health problems, which they thought were allergies for months.

“We were coughing and sniffling for months,” Sally said. “When they finally took the mold out, we were fine.”

According to The Daily Collegian archives, in 2002, the State College borough revoked the parking privileges of students living in two of Hendricks’ properties on East Beaver Avenue.

Zoning officer Herman Slaybaugh said Hendricks “illegally expanded the size of the lot and illegally allowed people to park there” who were nonresidents.

Hendricks only refunded 50% of the payments for the parking permits, according to The Daily Collegian archives.

Then in January 2005, court documents said 10 Penn State students sued Hendricks for withholding their security deposit, as well as conversion and violation of the Landlord Tenant Act — another pattern found within the court documents of Hendricks’ cases.

The Landlord Tenant Act states a landlord can “require a sum not in excess for two months’ rent to be deposited in escrow for the payment of damages to the leasehold premises and/or default in rent thereof during the first year of any lease,” according to court documents.

The act additionally requires landlords to provide a tenant with a “written list of damages” the landlord claims the tenant is responsible for “within 30 days of termination,” court documents said.

The total security deposit amount Hendricks “refused to return” to the 10 students was $3,460, according to court documents.

For Emma, a current Penn State student who wished to remain anonymous, she doesn’t reside in a Hendricks property, but she said she has visited her friends who currently live in Hendricks’ apartments.

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Emma said Hendricks leaves his tenants in apartments that are “uninhabitable.”

After hearing stories from her friends who live in a Hendricks apartment on Old Boalsburg and another on North Atherton, Emma said she noticed people are living “miserably” but are unable to legally imprison Hendricks.

Emma also said she looked into working for Hendricks Investments when first coming to State College, but after speaking with management and some employees directly, she opted to not continue with her application.

“It was super disorganized, and [it] just lacked customer service,” Emma said. “I didn’t want to be a part of that as a whole.”

On April 24, 2005, former Penn State senior Christopher Raspanti died in a house fire on the third story of 500 E. Beaver Ave., according to court documents.

Raspanti’s parents, William and Kimi, filed a civil suit against Hendricks, Charles Tabolsky, Hendricks/Tabolsky Investments and Continental Real Estate Management Inc., according to court documents.

After investigating, police believed the fire that caused Raspanti’s death allegedly had “an electrical origin,” court documents said.

Police also found the house’s four smoke detectors were disabled or not functioning, according to The Daily Collegian archives.

“Hendricks, Tabolsky and Hendricks/Tabolsky Investments knew or should have known that the third floor of the property was not equipped with necessary means for escape to assure the safety of tenants… against the dangers of fire,” court documents said.

The Raspantis attempted to charge the defendants on nine counts, but Hendricks’ lawyer at the time filed complaints that the allegations were “vague and unsupported,” according to The Daily Collegian archives.

The State College Borough Council then established an amendment to the International Fire Safety Code, stating all rental properties must implement a second exit within two years if the third floor is occupied, all rental properties must be inspected every three years and all rental properties must have “permanent, hard-wired or wireless smoke detectors.”

Throughout 2006, Hendricks faced multiple allegations from students’ properties, including two different fires in Marvin Gardens apartments, according to The Daily Collegian archives.

The first fire ignited on March 28, 2006 in apartment 211 Easterly Parkway, a story from The Daily Collegian archives said.

Though the first fire was deemed accidental after the resident claimed he was smoking a cigarette on the living room couch and fell asleep, the smoke detectors in the apartment and in a neighboring apartment were inoperable at the time.

After these fires, Hendricks was under investigation again for the lack of safety within his apartments, according to The Daily Collegian archives.

Eight months later, another fire ignited in a Marvin Gardens apartment on Pugh Street, according to archives.

According to the Centre Region Code Administration, Hendricks violated the borough fire ordinances because there were no smoke detectors in the bedrooms of the apartment or the common stairwell between apartments, according to The Daily Collegian archives.

"How much longer are we going to wait until someone gets killed?" former State College Mayor and Borough Council member Ron Filippelli said in The Daily Collegian archives. "We have to try and do something to send a strong message."

However, for Katie, when she moved in, she said her smoke detector was dangling by wires from the ceiling.

The updated Centre Region Code Administration for smoke detectors said smoke alarms should be installed and inspected by the landlords before the tenants move in, according to the administration’s code handbook.

Around the same time as the Raspantis’ case in 2006, Jennifer Bosick and Patricia Blackstock filed a civil decision on the counts that Hendricks’ apartment complex on West Beaver Avenue was “unsanitary, unsafe and unfit for habitation,” and Hendricks “improperly deducted” $100 from their security deposit, court documents said.

Additionally, they alleged Hendricks committed fraud and violated the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, according to court documents.

The UTPCPL was put in place to protect individuals from deceptive, fraudulent or unethical practices in order to gain a profit, according to the law’s description.

According to court documents, Bosick’s and Blackstock’s ceiling collapsed, there was a “large hole in the ceiling” for “more than” a month, the apartment was delivered in a “filthy” condition and the glass front entrance door into the apartment was “broken and splintered.”

In 2007, court documents said The Daily Collegian filed a lawsuit against Hendricks after he stopped paying for his advertisements for three months, which cost more than $3,000.

At the time, Hendricks had “failed and [refused] to pay the $3,650.30” he owed The Daily Collegian, according to court documents.

Then in October 2009, after making several complaints regarding an apartment contaminated with mold and mildew, tenant Alexander Morgan filed a civil suit against Hendricks since he “refused to remedy the mold problem,” according to court documents.

Morgan had chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder — an inflammatory lung disease that made it harder for him to breathe — court documents said, and the disorder could be exacerbated by mold.

After attempting to charge Hendricks on his breach of contract and the breach of implied warranty of habitability, Morgan died on Nov. 6, 2009 — a month after filing the lawsuit, according to Morgan’s autopsy results.

The cause of Morgan’s death was severe respiratory depression and hypotension, along with morphine toxicity, the autopsy results said.

His death was ruled an accident by the Centre County coroner.

One year later in 2010, Hendricks faced an additional lawsuit from Sovereign Bank — now known as Santander Bank — after neglecting to pay an $832,000 loan he had taken out in 2004, according to court documents.

Hendricks Investments Building

Hendricks Investments building on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022 in State College, Pa.

Additionally in 2010, Hendricks faced a civil suit after Jonathan Sunner’s move-in maintenance/cleaning request form was never answered, court documents said.

When several officers and Sunner’s stepfather went to inspect the apartment, they were stung numerous times by wasps — an infestation lying in the “rotted timber” outside of the apartment.

According to the court documents, Hendricks did not “appear at the hearing.”

In 2012, after the smell of dogs and previous owners’ trash lingered in Don Hauser’s apartment, Hauser sued Hendricks, according to court documents.

A janitor for 25 years at Penn State, court documents described Hauser as a “cleaning expert.”

After repeatedly alerting Hendricks Investments that “nothing had been done to prepare the house for occupancy,” Hendricks’ agent instructed Hauser to steam clean the carpets and he would be reimbursed.

According to court documents, Hauser was never reimbursed.

In 2013, four Penn State students sued Hendricks for violating the UTPCPL, as well as 68 P.S. Real and Personal Property § 250.512 — which protects tenants from incurring additional expenses from their landlords for damages that were not presented to them.

At Penn State, students with housing issues and other legal issues are able to utilize Penn State Student Legal Services to assist in conflicts, according to its website.

Cullen Balinski, Taylor Berrian, Michael Frankenfield and Andrew Green lived in a Henrdricks property during the 2014-15 academic year, according to court documents.

Hendricks “unlawfully” charged or overcharged the tenants for additional items, such as replacement drip pans, and withheld their $2,263.38 security deposit, court documents said.

Court documents said Hendricks’ “intentional misrepresentation of maintenance charges completed… and charged to tenants is an unfair and deceptive trade practice.”

In this case, Hendricks violated the UTPCPL and breached the Penn State students’ contract again, according to court documents.

According to Director of Penn State SLS Kelly Mroz, more than 300 students reached out to SLS with various landlord-tenant issues in 2021.

Mroz said via email that the goal of SLS is to “help each individual student with their individual legal concern in the way that works best for them.”

The university is currently in a pending litigation with Hendricks, according to Mroz. She said she could not make any comment in response to previous and current conflicts students faced with Hendricks.

In early January, Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said via email that the university “does not generally comment” if there is pending legal litigation.

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In 2016, former Pennsylvania Attorney General Bruce Beemer announced a settlement with Hendricks after accusing him of charging tenants with unlawful administrative fees and fines, according to The Daily Collegian archives.

According to a release from Beemer, Hendricks allegedly “routinely charged hundreds — if not thousands — of dollars above and beyond the amount of the security deposit upon termination of the lease.”

Ultimately, Hendricks agreed to cease overcharging tenants, pay restitution to eligible tenants and pay the Pennsylvania commonwealth $25,000 to cover the costs of civil penalties and the investigation, according to The Daily Collegian archives.

However, after the 2016 case, Hendricks continued to face civil litigation from tenants.

In 2017, tenants Connor Curry and Ryan Bramble charged Hendricks after developing a “nagging cough and sore throats,” which they “believed to be due to the conditions in the basement living quarters,” according to court documents.

Curry and Bramble said they noticed a “mildew smell,” insects and sewer water flooding the basement, court documents said.

The basement had “flooded with one to two inches of sewer water,” according to court documents.

Current tenant and former Penn State student Daniella, who wished to remain anonymous, said while she’s trying to leave the property, she appreciates that she’s never “bothered.”

“The only positive experience I've had with him is that I'm left alone,” Daniella said.

Daniella said she’s had to deal with roach infestations and heating issues on her own for several months — despite calling the office to ask for help.

“He never answers. He’s never around. He neglects everything he has to do,” Daniella said. “I’m trying to get out of here sooner rather than later.”

The reason Daniella said she’s staying on the property is because she has an unspoken deal with Hendricks Investments — she pays her rent months in advance, they cash the checks and no one mentions it.

After the 2020-21 academic year, Daniella said she visited the office to renew her lease.

“The workers said, ‘Yeah, we’ll let him know, and we’ll call you,” Daniella said. “Obviously, that was bulls---.”

Daniella said the only conversation regarding her lease renewal was when Hendricks refused to let Daniella resign because he said he was “worried.”

“He was worried that I was unsatisfied with my living conditions because I kept emailing them about my heating issues,” Daniella said. “At this point, it was fine because I had broken it to get it to work.”

After nearly two months of frequenting his office, Daniella said she thought “whatever” and continued paying her rent several months in advance.

“They cash them and leave me alone,” Daniella said.

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Daniella said she’s paid her rent until April, and she plans on moving back to Pittsburgh then.

Also in 2017, Hendricks was sued by Sahar Jalili for violating the UTPCPL and the Landlord Tenant Act after withholding security deposits.

Jalili toured one of Hendricks’ apartments, but the apartment “offered” to her “was not the same as she was shown,” court documents said.

She assumed she would receive the apartment that Hendricks showed her, court documents said.

Jalili then sued Hendricks for fraud, violations of the UTPCPL and for withholding her security deposit, according to court documents.

Similarly, student Robert Reiter filed a lawsuit against Hendricks in 2017 for accusations of fraud, violations of UTPCPL and withholding a security deposit.

Later in 2020, Hendricks was sued by additional Penn State students Lauren Sandercock, Kiriana Jobson, Cara Scipioni, Amanda Bater, Morgan Herber and Elena Rose.

The tenants resided at 500 E. Beaver Ave. and alleged that Hendricks withheld fees and deposits, breached their contract, violated the Landlord Tenant Act, violated the UTPCPL, breached fiduciary duty and promissory estoppel, according to court documents.

Promissory estoppel refers to one party’s promise to another party and the legal obligation both sides are required to uphold, according to Cornell Law School.

In this case, Hendricks “breached” promissory estoppel as well as fiduciary duty — meaning he did not uphold the binding contract between landlord and tenant.

In November 2021, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro filed a lawsuit against Hendricks for “repeated violations of the Consumer Protection Law and Landlord Tenant Act,” according to court documents.

Court documents said the commonwealth aims to “restrain” Hendricks’ methods and practices, and Shapiro intends to seek a “permanent” remedy.

The complaints Shapiro cited depicted various scenarios of Hendricks’ “long history of violating Pennsylvania law,” according to court documents.

For example, court documents said Hendricks “failed to provide facilities and services vital to the life, health and safety of the tenant and to the use of the premises for residential purposes,” and one complaint alleged that the apartment was “disgusting — covered in dust, bugs and debris.”

Court documents also said Hendricks’ leases provide “a right of entry for [Hendricks] and his employees at ‘reasonable times’” without notice — such as “even a knock,” one example cited.

For other current tenants of Hendricks, working with management is “condescending,” “rude” and “creepy,” according to Sally, Mary and Katie.

In certain instances, the three tenants said maintenance trespasses on the properties without alerting the tenants.

“At one point, we thought we had a ghost because our fan downstairs would move,” Katie said. “We think it’s the maintenance people coming in without knocking on our door.”

According to Katie, their property is connected to the basement of another business, so if the girls’ front door is locked, the maintenance staff could enter through the girls’ basement door.

Katie said Hendricks’ presence makes her “uncomfortable.”

“This man gaslights us,” Katie said.

According to the Centre County Prothonotary, the oral argument for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Hendricks case occurred on March 7 at 11 a.m.

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The prothonotary office workers said the latest documents filed were from February 15.

Some State College groups, such as Alleghenies Abolition and ​​The State College Solidarity Collective/El Colectivo de Solidaridad de State College, are fighting against landlords like Hendricks.

Alleghenies Abolition, joined by El Colectivo and other progressive organizations, hosted an anti-eviction rally in December 2021 to bring awareness to those who are uneducated regarding their legal rights as tenants.

Emiliano Cambra-Morales, a spokesperson for El Colectivo, said the organization had been hearing complaints regarding the “habitability” of Hendricks apartments.

After composing a list of issues, such as “defective kitchen appliances,” leaks in bathrooms and the presence of mold, Cambra-Morales said El Colectivo documented the issues with various pictures.

“Once we [sent Hendricks the list of demands], he terminated the leases of those tenants,” Cambra-Morales said. “He let them expire and did not allow them to renew. He never fixed anything, but he continued taking rent.”

“When I met him personally, he pretended he didn’t know why we were there,” Cambra-Morales said. “He 100% pretended he had no idea what was going on.”

Cambra-Morales said he believes Hendricks targets those who have “limited options,” such as students and those with low-income — a moral Cambra-Morales disagrees with.

“I think that’s his motto — to prey on people suffering in desperate situations.”

After contacting his attorney Lee Stivale and Hendricks Investments multiple times, Hendricks said he had “no comment” regarding any of the litigation.

Editor's note: Elena Rose is a former editor-in-chief of The Daily Collegian.

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