Apartment maintenance worker's criminal past raises residents' concerns

by: Erica Bryant Updated:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - From the outside, the Allure apartment complex is appealing.

It is a gated community with resort-style amenities.

On the website, it is described as the intersection between chic and sophistication.

But on the inside, some residents, who did not want to show their faces, said they have concerns. 

They said with the high cost of rent, $1,700 to $2,200 monthly per unit, they thought they were pricing themselves out of certain security problems.

But, they said valuables have been disappearing from apartments and the staff is not responding to their complaints.

Residents claim that their complaints have been ignored by the property management company.

Something else makes them even more uncomfortable.

They said that Christopher Palmer, who is a convicted felon, was working as Allure's maintenance supervisor.


(Christopher Palmer)

They said he lives on site and responds to requests inside their apartments. Residents became suspicious when Palmer was arrested on the property in July for charges in Watauga County for larceny by an employee.

One resident said it has left her with a sense of insecurity like she always have to look over her shoulder. Another resident said it makes her feel very unsafe.

A Channel 9 investigation uncovered that Palmer served prison time in California for second-degree burglary and defrauding an innkeeper. Channel 9 went to Allure's office to ask about his background and were referred to the corporate office in Michigan.

Diane Batayeh is a spokesperson for Village Green Apartment Management Company. 

She said that residents' comfort, care, concern always comes first, always.

She said the company policy is not to hire convicted felons.

"We do background checks and that did not show up," Batayeh said.

Channel 9 shared information with her that we obtained from the California Department of Corrections about Palmer's conviction and she said that her team investigated.

"They indicated to me that they've asked Mr. Palmer and Mr. Palmer says he has never even lived in California,” Batayeh said.

Channel 9 found multiple addresses for Christopher Palmer in California from 1989 to 2007 in Los Angeles County, San Bernardino County and records that show his mugshots and fingerprints when he ended up behind bars there. 

Ken Szymanski heads the Greater Charlotte Apartment Association.

He told Channel 9 that most apartment complexes run background checks on potential employees and tenants, but the depth and quality of those checks vary.

"There is not a clear blue line of what the norm or standard is or practice," Szymanski said. "If you talk to 10 companies, you may get eight different answers, but of course the more you do, the better."

Szymanski said there is no law that prevents complexes from hiring felons, but they should consider the types of crimes committed and the employee's position, especially if it involves inside access to apartments.

Tenants agree.

One resident said that she believes that people who have been incarcerated deserve a second chance, but they need to be in a different position.

"They don't need access to people's private homes and entry," she said.

Experts said no matter where people live, they should always take precautions.

"Everyone needs to be on their guard and lock their doors, park in well-lit areas, engrave their valuables and carry renters' insurance and just be aware regardless of where you are," Szymanski said.

Szymanski added that residents should do their homework before moving into a complex.

People can check police data to research crime statistics for the area.

He also said residents should talk to current renters to get their feedback about the property.

If residents ask apartment management if there are any issues, Szymanski said that the staff is obligated to be honest about what they know.

If residents have concerns or a dispute with their apartment complex management team that they cannot resolve, the city of Charlotte does provide an option for arbitration.

Contact the city of Charlotte landlord/tenant mediation program through the community relations committee at 704-336-2424.

 

 

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