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IN THE NEWS … Tenants Get a $3 Million Settlement! By – John R. Triplett

Posted on 01. Dec, 2018 by in all, Magazine Articles

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The owners of an Atlanta Georgia apartment complex failed to provide basic security for their tenants and the parties to a negligent security apartment shooting case settled for $3 million, according to a release. The apartment shooting case arose out of a fatal shooting of a 15-year-old boy at [an apartment complex] on January 6, 2016.  The apartment complex and the companies that owned it are now out of business.  The settlement amount constituted the full insurance limits for the apartment complex where the shooting occurred. Evidence showed that the gates to the complex didn’t work, the guard shack was in shambles, and security was sorely lacking, according to the lead counsel for the plaintiffs. “This would have been a powerful case to try,” said [the plaintiff’s attorney.]  “The truth is that the owners of these apartments just did not give a damn about the people who lived there, and we were ready to prove that.” The president of the company in charge of security at the apartments had admitted under cross-examination that if you lived at [the complex,] “you’re a sitting duck” for criminals.

 Apartments Cited for Numerous Code Violations

The president of the company that owned the apartments admitted that he had been cited for over 300 code violations in connection with the property.  But before his court date, the owner returned to New York and skipped court.  He never returned to Atlanta, and a bench warrant for his arrest remains active in Georgia. [Another attorney], who also represented the plaintiffs, said that he had also been looking forward to trying the case.  “After we obtained sworn affidavits from five former employees of the defendants, they didn’t have much of a defense left,” he said.  “I’ve handled a lot of cases like this, and legwork matters.” One former employee of the defendant companies testified by affidavit that the so-called “security guards” had not been stopping crime, but instead were “taking half of the money that changed hands in drug deals on the property.” The case settled after the plaintiffs responded to the defendants’ motions for summary judgment, but before the Court had ruled on those motions.

HUD Charges Landlords Over Designated Parking for Disabled Resident By John R.Triplett

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has chargedOhiolandlords with discrimination for refusing the request of a female resident with disabilities to have a designated parking space, according to a release. The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from denying or limiting housing to persons with disabilities or from refusing to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices. HUD’s charge alleges that theOhioowners refused to grant a designated parking space to a resident with disabilities, despite the woman providing medical documentation attesting to her need for the accommodation. As a result, the woman and her children had to move to a different complex.

The HUD discrimination charge states the woman:

  • Made a verbal request to the apartment’s property manager for a designated parking space as a reasonable accommodation for her disability.
  • In reply, the property manager informed her she needed to get a prescription from her doctor.
  • In July 2015 she provided the property manager with a prescription from her medical provider, dated July 6, 2015, stating “Pt has a disability + requires a designated parking place close to home….”
  • The property manager provided her with a reasonable accommodation request form.
  • She returned the completed form, along with a copy of her July 6, 2015, prescription, noting that she was requesting a designated parking space.
  • Her medical provider indicated that she is disabled, that she needs the requested designated parking space close to her unit to be able to live in the apartment community, and that there is an identifiable relationship between her requested accommodation and her disability.
  • The apartments failed to grant the woman’s reasonable accommodation request.

In 2017 the woman and her four minor children moved from the property.  “When a resident needs a designated parking space as an accommodation for her disability and providing one will not be an undue burden or fundamental alteration, a housing provider must do so,” Paul Compton, HUD’s General Counsel, said in a release. “For many individuals with disabilities, certain accommodations are necessary in order for them to fully enjoy their home,” Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in the release.“HUD will continue to take action to ensure that housing providers recognize and meet their obligation to comply with the nation’s fair housing laws.” “We want housing providers to know what their legal responsibilities are and to follow them. If they don’t, we will bring charges like this one.”HUD’s charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court. If the judge finds that discrimination has occurred, he may award damages to the complainant for harm caused by the discrimination. The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose fines to vindicate the public interest. If the matter is decided in federal court, the judge may also award punitive damages. Last April, HUD marked the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, joining local communities, housing advocates, and fair housing organizations across the country in a coordinated campaign to enhance awareness of fair housing rights.

Portland Rental Management Company Agrees to Pay Former Tenant $105,000 By the Editors of the Rental Housing Journal

A Portland rental management company has settled a lawsuit and agreed to pay $105,000 to a former tenant who had claimed deplorable living conditions existed in her southeastPortlandapartment complex, according to reports. The property management company agreed to pay the settlement shortly before the case had been scheduled to go to trial in Multnomah County Circuit Court. [The former tenant] sued the management company over what the suit alleged were “deplorable living conditions that included hypodermic needles, rats and overflowing garbage at her southeast Portland apartment complex.”

 Big Wins by Tenants Are Rare

Her attorney told OregonLive.com that the rental management company sent a collection agency after her seeking more than $1,500 in so-called bogus charges.”As a result of the alleged deplorable living conditions and bogus charges, the tenant filed a lawsuit against the rental management company for emotional harm. When commenting on his client’s decision to sue, the attorney told the newspaper, “She didn’t fall through a walkway, and she didn’t get poisoned by lead. This was a case where she was treated like it didn’t matter and all of her concerns were ignored.” The tenant’s attorney says he’s heard of only two other tenant-landlord lawsuits inPortlandin which landlords have ended up paying more than $100,000. In both those cases, the former tenants had claimed that they were physically injured. The tenant told The Oregonian/OregonLive that it was an uphill fight against the management company from the beginning, and she felt powerless at times. “If you complain about something like I did throughout your whole tenancy and nothing happens, you just feel disheartened,” she said.

John Triplett is a writer for the RentalHousingJournal.com which is an interactive community of multifamliy investors, independent rental home owners, residential property management professionals and other rental housing and real estate professionals. It is the most comprehensive source for news and information for the rental housing industry. Their website features exclusive articles and blogs on real estate investing, apartment market trends, property management best practices, landlord tenant laws, apartment marketing, maintenance and more. 

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