Tenants at a Portland apartment complex filed a lawsuit against their new landlord for allegedly kicking them out after they demanded repairs to their residences.
The apartment building, which was previously named Titan Manor, was sold to a group of California- and Beaverton-based real estate partnerships in 2016. The group renamed the complex to The Melrose Apartments and told tenants in October 2017 that they would raise rents from $850 for a one-bedroom to around $1,100. Residents weren’t happy about the news and asked for their apartments to be repaired before they paid the increase in rent. They were told to get out.
“For the last year residents have repeatedly and amicably asked for repairs to no avail,” a press release from the Oregon Community Alliance of Tenants said. “Children and adult residents have missed work and school as they succumb to illnesses caused by the multiple health and safety violations in the apartments.”
Pamela Phan, an organizer with the Community Alliance of Tenants, said the residents have been living in apartments infested with cockroaches, mold and other unsightly conditions.
City inspectors documented more than 400 housing code violations in the apartment complex, including mold, loose electrical outlets and missing smoke detectors.
Dan Lavey, a spokesman for the new landlords, said the previous owners didn’t keep up with the maintenance and the new landlords asked for an increase in rent to make the necessary repairs.
“The owners don’t dispute that the condition of the residences. The whole complex was in severe disrepair,” Lavey explained. “The question is how to best make the improvements and under what timeframe you do that.”
Lavey added that the families that were evicted received $4,000 in relocation assistance from the apartment owners. Those who wished to move into newly renovated units in The Melrose Apartments had their application fees waived.
Julio Lopez Hernandez, who grew up in the complex, said his family received a no-cause eviction notice in November and have to move out in the next few weeks. He said he has fond memories of living in the complex, despite its problems.
“This is where I learned how to ride a bike, ride a scooter, ride a skateboard,” he said.
Lopez Hernandez said that he appreciates the relocation assistance his parents have received.
“It has financially helped them, I would say that, having to look for a new place to live,” he said. “It’s not something that is going to replace the communities that are being broken apart.”
However, his parents haven’t been able to find an apartment in Portland they can afford, so they are considering relocating to Vancouver, Washington.
The lawsuit demand between $2,000 and $8,000 per tenant for the unhealthy living conditions in the apartments and alleged violations of Oregon landlord-tenant law.