Rent is due September 5 for all tenants.
Two tenants are evicted from their apartments after failing to pay rent for seven months and ignoring the Sheriff’s posted warning. The management company provides professional movers to assist the tenant and to store any belongings until they have found a new apartment.
More tenants break from the “union” and offer to pay their back rent, including increases, so that they can stay in their apartments. Other tenants express interest in staying, but cannot afford to pay seven months of back rent at once.
The management company announced they were dismissing eviction proceedings against non-rent paying tenants, asking them to pay September rent and work out an interest-free payment plan for past due rent.
The striking tenants are behind five months in rent. After several court notices, some of the tenants ignore the order to vacate posted by the Sheriff.
Negotiations with the tenant union break down when the union’s attorney, Elena Popp, demands that the management company pay her $250,000 in addition to restricting rent increases in the future. The management company refuses and disengages from negotiations with the union. Instead, the management company offers to resolve each case tenant-by-tenant.
One of the tenants who had been evicted in June delivers a letter to the management company that reads, “The lawyers that came to talk to my wife misinformed her and didn’t tell her the truth…Until now, I see all the consequences that the lawyers never informed me about. We have never been bad tenants the past 7 years we have been living here. I am comfortable living here and I know it is probably too late to ask you if you will still rent me your apartment. Lastly, I am truly sorry for all the problems that this has caused.”
Another tenant whose case has not yet gone to trial comes into the management office and pays all the past rent. The management company agrees to drop all eviction proceedings and allow the tenant to keep his apartment.
Sixteen cases are set for trial. In six of them, the tenants choose to move out of their apartment rather than face the risk of being evicted.
The management company prevails in six of the ten cases that go to trial. In four cases it is found that the tenants should be evicted because they refused to pay rent. In two others it is found that the tenants would have to pay the full rent as demanded by the management company to stay in the unit.
In only one case is the management company ordered to make any repairs at the Burlington Apartments.
Legal teams prepare for trial.
The Burlington Apartments are not rent-controlled, and the management company refuses to restrict its ability to raise rent in the future for a small group of tenants because it could no longer afford to forgo increases to cover the rising maintenance costs. Therefore, the management company initiates legal actions to remove the non-paying tenants.
Approximately 80 units refuse to pay rent.
The non-paying tenants, led by political activists, form a “union” and demand the right to collectively bargain for a smaller rent increase and for a limit against future rent increases.
Burlington Apartments tenants are notified of the of rent increases across all 190 units. Rent in one-bedroom units are raised to $1,300 and two-bedrooms units are raised to $1,675. New units in the buildings, however, rent for $100 to $200 more.
The current rents at the Burlington Apartments remain below the market-rate and are in line with the 2018 rate for subsidized housing owned by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Local activists who do not live in the building hear about the rent increases and begin approaching tenants to encourage them not to pay rent in March.
To keep pace with rising costs, the management company decides to raise rents. The building manager performs a survey of the other buildings in the area to determine the market-rate for the neighborhood.
The survey finds that while many of the Burlington Apartments’ tenants pay rates as low as $950 for one-bedroom apartments and $1,050 for two-bedroom apartments, one and two-bedroom apartments in the neighborhood rent from $1,500 to over $2,000 per month.
Since the residents of the Burlington Apartments’ are working families living on a tight budget, the management company decides to only raise rents to a sustainable level for the buildings—not to the market rates in the neighborhood.