CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE)- The former owners and managers of Lake Arbor Apartments will be paying out nearly $550,000 to tenants following a lawsuit settlement.
The suit was filed in 2019 by the NC Justice Center, the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and Robinson Bradshaw Law on behalf of former tenants who were living in units with serious housing code violations.
FOX 46 began reporting on the dangerous living conditions at Lake Arbor back in 2018. We found several instances of units without power, mail service issues, mold, water damage, broken air conditioning units, rats, roaches and more.
Our investigations led City of Charlotte Code Enforcement to inspect every unit on the property in 2018. Violations were found in every unit.
The lawsuit said it was looking for plaintiffs to be awarded compensatory damages in an amount to be determined at trial, rent abatement for each month during which tenants paid rent while their respective unit was not in “fit and habitable condition,” and civil penalties ranging from $500 to $4,000 for each violation.
The state Superior Court complaint alleged that the former Lake Arbor owners and property managers violated Charlotte’s Housing Code and North Carolina consumer protection laws from 2015 to 2019, leaving tenants in dangerous units.
On Wednesday, Dec. 9, the lawsuit was settled, with the former Lake Arbor management agreeing to pay out $547,500 to the class of tenants.
“These landlords kept taking the rent and taking the rent, all the while refusing to fix serious
safety problems in tenants’ units, as found by the City,” said former Lake Arbor tenant and class
plaintiff Serita Russell. “It’s about time they were called to account. I’m glad the lawsuit was
settled, and I hope other landlords take this as a lesson on what happens when a landlord cares
more about making money than the safety of its tenants.”
After the lawsuit was filed, Lake Arbor evicted all of their tenants, saying it was to complete the repairs. They then sold the property to New York-based URS Capital Partners in April, according to the NC Justice Center.
The former tenants and attorney’s hope the settlement sends a clear message about allowing dangerous conditions to persist at their properties.
“Landlords and property managers are legally obligated to keep units in a fit and habitable
condition and make timely repairs of all violations noted by local housing inspectors,” said Julian
Wright, an attorney at Robinson Bradshaw. “Continuing to collect rent while failing to make
such repairs can itself violate the law, subjecting the landlords to the possibility of treble
damages and attorneys’ fees.”
If former Lake Arbor tenants feel like they’re eligible for the settlement, they can still join the lawsuit. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those who seek help from Action NC with tenant issues can call their hotline at 704-284-7154 or email email@example.com
MORE ON LAKE ARBOR APARTMENTS
- City of Charlotte confirms rodent infestation issues at Lake Arbor Apartments
- Lake Arbor heads to housing appeals board for violations
- FOX 46 confronts Lake Arbor Apartments ‘slumlord’
- Lake Arbor Apartments fails to meet code violation deadline