‘I need a home’: Woman faces eviction after apartment ceiling collapse

CHARLOTTE — A woman was forced out of her university city apartment more than four months ago when the ceiling collapsed. But she told Channel 9 she still hasn’t moved back in because after crews repaired the ceiling, they left a mess behind.

Kathleen Laguerre told Channel 9′s Almiya White they now want her evicted. She said she’s been living in a hotel for the past few months and wanted to move back into her apartment once it was cleaned out.

Laguerre wants her complex to be held accountable.

“I need a place to call home,” she told White. “I need a home. I deserve a home.”

Laguerre lives at MAA University Lake in University City. She said on Christmas Eve, she was asleep in her bedroom and heard an odd sound.

“I heard a loud boom in the living room,” she said. “I came around to here and just saw everything collapsed on the sofa.”

Laguerre recorded video that day that shows insulation scattered across her living room and water dripping from her ceiling. It had all started right behind the walls of her living room.

“Not to mention the same thing happened in the bedroom,” she said. “So if I didn’t get up to see what was going on in the living room, I would have died in my sleep in bed.”

Since Christmas Eve, Laguerre has been staying at a hotel. She’s paying out of pocket while waiting for repairs. She said she received an email from her complex on Feb. 3 saying repairs were completed and that she could go back.

But she said her return home was not what she expected.

“There’s still the carpenter plastic everywhere,” she told White, and then, “You can still see the debris from the ceilings and all of that stuff in some of the appliances,” and then, “They’ve basically left everything in chaos and just a clear space in the bedroom on the carpet for me to sleep on.”

Laguerre said she reached back out to her complex and her leasing manager responded saying, “I do agree that debris is not your responsibility.”

White contacted the complex on Wednesday. An attorney with MAA stated Laguerre “did not accept offers to have the apartment cleaned.”

They credited two months of her rent and offered her the option of moving into a different unit. She said that wasn’t acceptable because she would have to sign a new lease.

“Do you feel like your apartment complex supported you in any way throughout this process?” White asked her.

“There’s nowhere in this process that I’ve experienced any form of customer service and just a human empathy,” Laguerre said.

“What do you want to see happen?” White asked.

“I would love to have some legal assistance,” she said. “I would love for these people to be held accountable for what they’ve done. I need to have this situation resolved.”

Laguerre is still staying at a hotel. She now facing eviction and was summoned to court Thursday. She said this is something she is willing to fight.

Advice from Action 9 for renters:

Action 9 investigator Jason Stoogenke has covered issues like this before and has this advice for renters in these situations.

first, don’t withhold rent in protest unless your lawyer advises you to.

If you can’t live in your rental, ask your landlord to pay for your hotel stay. If they say no, turn to your renters insurance.

If there’s a mess left behind, urge your landlord in writing to clean it up.

Keep good records in case you end up going to court.

If you need a lawyer, try Legal Aid.

(WATCH BELOW: No injuries after fire guts apartments on Lake Norman)

Almiya White

Almiya White, wsoctv.com

Almiya White is a reporter for WSOC-TV