Residents forced to move so apartment complex can make improvements

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Lake Arbor Apartment residents have to move so management can make improvements ordered by Charlotte city leaders.

Some residents have already moved out. Two residents moved out Saturday, but others said they're not going anywhere until they have legal notice.

[Lake Arbor Apartments fined nearly $750 in fire safety violations]

Channel 9 has extensively reported on the disgusting and dangerous living conditions at the complex. Complaints of rats, mold and code violations have piled up for years.

Neighbor Araminta Brace said she wished she knew this sooner.

"You can't just cover up mold with some paint," Brace said. "I had no idea from the beginning, but then once I started looking, it was already too late. I already signed the paperwork."

Channel 9 tracked down more than 184 code violations since the city got involved last summer. Earlier this month, residents filed a class-action lawsuit to get some of their rent back.

Although the complex is privately owned, the complaints were so bad, the city recruited a handful of other housing organizations to intervene.

Charlotte has a rule called the "Minimum Housing Code." It forces apartments to give residents a basic level of safety.

Based on that rule, it is fining the complex $100 per apartment. But instead of repairing things unit-by-unit, Lake Arbor's owners decided to rehab all 177 units at once.

Resident Shadavious Billings said picking up and leaving to find a new place to stay isn't easy, especially with seven children.

"The whole point of moving to Lake Arbor was for me to establish some credit. Didn't happen. Pay my rent faithfully on time, and management said not to pay it. They weren't accepting rent," said Billings. "I feel like it's a win-lose situation."

Residents had to be out of their homes by the end of August, and the city said it is helping tenants relocate to new facilities.

Activists from Action North Carolina helped two residents move out Saturday and told other neighbors their rights.

"They don't have to leave immediately unless they have an eviction and they've gone through that court process," said Jessica Moreno with Action North Carolina.

It is unclear when the rehab will be done and how long it will take.