Apartment tenants set to get more than $500K after suing over unsafe conditions

CHARLOTTE — Tenants living at a west Charlotte apartment complex have won more than $500,000 after suing over unsafe living conditions.

The ruling involves families living at the Lake Arbor Apartments on Tuckaseegee Road, where residents said management never made any repairs but continued to collect rent.

They said the landlord kicked people out of their units to make the repairs, leaving many with nowhere to go.

Former resident Jasmine Johnson got evicted.

“It was crazy,” Johnson said. “Going from motel to motel. Standing outside with a child. No help.”

The complex has been plagued with problems -- from leaking ceilings and mold to rodents and roaches -- for years. A total of about 100 people were impacted.

“It was a lot of pain and suffering and a lot of trauma,” Johnson said.

Last year, the apartment owner faced more than 184 code violations for unsafe living conditions.

“We went through a lot in that neighborhood,” Johnson said. “It was a lot in that neighborhood.”

That’s when residents got help from lawyers with the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and North Carolina Justice Center.

“The management at the time continued to collect rent, made efforts to collect rent, imposed penalties and did all that in violation of the housing code and in violation of North Carolina statutes,” said Julian Wright.

The former property owners will now have to shell out more than $540,000 as part of the class-action lawsuit. Residents will get the rent money back that they were forced to pay, and the property managers agreed to help fix the bad credit some of the residents may have received as a result.

“We fought together as a community,” Johnson said. “We stood together as a community, and we won as a community.”

Past coverage:

The problems at the complex prompted a series of changes to city housing policies, including stronger penalties for code violations.

At one point, the owners faced more than $130,000 in fines, but now they’ll have to pay more than half a million dollars.

If you are a former tenant at Lake Arbor and could be a party to the lawsuit and have any questions, you can call the North Carolina Justice Center (919-856-2570) or the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy (704-376-1600).