But there was a problem: The woman she'd given the form didn't work in the office, and they had no record of her 60-day notice, she says. She tried talking to Heintzelman about the vanishing notice. "I told her my 60-day was lost. She raised her voice then — I had to back down because really, I couldn't win."

Gilstrap says she was told that if she didn't renew it would wreck her credit. She signed a new three-month lease. She says Heintzelman gave her a lease to take home, with Post-It notes directing her to sign some spots with her own initials and signatures and some parts to put her parents' signatures and initials. Gilstrap says she signed off for her parents, assuming it was fine. "I don't really know the ins and outs of renting, I wish I did," Gilstrap says. (Heintzelman denies saying anything about Gilstrap's credit: "That would never come out of my mouth.")

The second lease didn't actually end after three months, of course: It would continue on a month-to-month basis, indefinitely, until Gilstrap turned in her 60-day notice.

C.J. Duffey accuses Centerpoint of forging his signature.
Mark Graham
C.J. Duffey accuses Centerpoint of forging his signature.
These images of Kenya Gilstrap's toilet and sink were used as "proof" by Centerpoint that she had damaged her apartment beyond normal wear and tear.
These images of Kenya Gilstrap's toilet and sink were used as "proof" by Centerpoint that she had damaged her apartment beyond normal wear and tear.

She stayed a few months past, finally moving out in November of 2012. Centerpoint, however, contended in court that she was actually evicted. Records show Centerpoint had begun to file an eviction against her but then failed to follow through with the case — it was dismissed for "want of prosecution," which typically happens when a person who files the suit doesn't show up to the trial.

"There was no payment made in November," Heintzelman said on the witness stand, explaining her basis for the supposed "eviction" against Gilstrap.

They charged her $473, the standard reletting fee for someone who breaks her lease. But there were other charges dropped in, too: $93 in concessions, $72 for unpaid utilities, $181 for eviction costs, $515 for unpaid rent, $170 in cleaning fees and $255 for damaging her carpet and her blinds. In court, Centerpoint provided grainy black and white photos of alleged damage, including the rusty inside of a toilet's water tank.

They also offered another piece of evidence — a concession addendum that was attached to the second lease signed by Gilstrap, the one she signed her parents' names to. The addendum included Duffey's actual signature, but at a diagonal angle right on top of his wife's signature. He says he doesn't write sideways. He claims it was copied, cut and pasted from somewhere else. "It's just pasted on there," he told the court. "I don't write across the page like that."

Larson stepped in then. "Mrs. Heintzelman has testified under oath," Larson told Duffey. "I have to find her a trustworthy source." The judge gave Duffey another warning not to accuse the Centerpoint property supervisor of forging his signature: "The only thing I am suggesting is do not question what she has testified to."

In the end, it was obvious Centerpoint wouldn't suffer its first loss under Larson. "I do not always like what I have to do," she said, "but I have to follow the rules." She awarded Centerpoint all the money it asked for — $2,400 after attorneys' fees. Centerpoint's attorney, Kelly Hankey, said she spent six hours preparing her client for trial and also wanted coverage for "travel time from my office in Plano, Texas." Her hourly rate is $175, she said.

Duffey was in an improbably good mood after the trial, and planned to press on, even if an appeal cost him more. "Those were not my signatures," he said. "And for them to still rule in the apartment's favor is so unjust, so that's a ring that has to be broken down."

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34 comments
Anoynm.
Anoynm.

I used to live in Centerpoint for almost a year. It was my first time renting on the States, andi was played by them.They evicted me a month after i renew in January 2013( wise). 

Right now i cant even rent a place without asking me about this one. Supposely, i owe 6,000.00 dollars for an apartment that it didnt even had a bed ( by that time i was really poor) .

All i received was threats and disrespect :Kendra and her secretary are a Dream Team . 

There was not even a single month that i didn't owe late fees, even when i paid on time.

Now i am bound to live in a hotel because i cant rent anywhere.

Adolf
Adolf

Kikes, what do you expect?

super40chic
super40chic

The city must be getting a kickback from this company this is ludicrous. Any real judge would ask why a complex in the hood has sued over 700 people!?!? Really

Texas really needs more tenant and employee rights badly. It's sad. I hope karma comes there way

lemonaioli
lemonaioli

So glad Lincoln Property isn't like this. Yes, for many years they had the market rate/concession thing going but if you stayed for the duration of the lease, it wasn't a problem. I lived in the Village for longer than I care to admit but they never did me wrong. I got more back from my deposit than I actually thought I would. Yes, reading the lease is important so you know what you're responsible for but they're not going to change it for you so after year one, I initialed it without going over it with a fine toothed comb.

carsosi
carsosi

I lived here and can tell you from first-hand experience that this is VERY true.  They will attempt to collect even from items you put on your walk-though form.  Stay away from this place.  Go live at a week-to-week hotel if you have to.  Avoid this place at all costs (literally)!

jglaser1000
jglaser1000

How is this Apartment Complex in Dallas, on Frankford, suing in Denton County?  There is something fishy going on. The cases should be filed in their jurisdiction, Dallas.  This Judge needs to be looked into Big Time.  Also,does the Denton Courts not address this at the time of filing?  -I very disappointed in the Denton Courts also. 

fir3walker
fir3walker

Shouldn't the Texas Attorney General look into this company?

I mean, this has been going on for too long.

I think we need to call for an audit of Centerpoint... I bet ya they wont have to look very deep to find something really nasty there....

DFWNORML
DFWNORML

Someone should simply burn the place down and hang the management - and then roll them up and smoke them.

rlisch6
rlisch6

Did any of these folks appeal to the County Court like you can with an eviction in JP Court?  When I was evicted, I appealed and it went to the County judge and was a brand new trial.   I won my appeal.   If the justice of the peace is so bad, wouldn't at least someone get a win at the County Court?

rlisch6
rlisch6

Ok, am I missing something?  The story talks about how huge the complex is and says there have been 700 lawsuits filed since 1996.  That works out to roughly 41 suits a year.   Are any of these evictions?   And it says the judge has ruled on 55 trials.  If she was elected in 2006, that puts it at just under 8 trials a year.   Let's say there are 500 units in the complex.  That works out to be 1.6 percent of the their tenants!   So 98.4% of the tenants are NOT sued?

And isn't it strange that gosh, if it's not the lawyers (who apparently know what they are doing), it must be the judge's fault because, gosh, tenants NEVER break their lease.

I'm sorry, but this sounds like a lot of sour grapes from people who lost.  Wilonski leaves and the Observer is left to this?  What's next: "The Outrage of Sunrise:  How the Western United States are Being Screwed by the Earth's Rotation."   

s2pid80it
s2pid80it

Well, apparently, the lesson here is if you are going to rent in Dallas, be smart, be educated, and be rich.

whocareswhatithink
whocareswhatithink

Great job bringing this to light...slimy law practice, slimy judge, slimy apartment complex.

jekku60
jekku60

Wow. With all of the people who rent in Dallas and the surrounding cities, this should be a huge wake up call to do one's homework and READ THE FINE PRINT.  While the clientele at the complex doesn't sound like it's the best, the management is very obviously using its tenants in this little 'criminal' sideline business to make themselves more money. Add an equally slimey lawyer and a judge who always rules in favor of the complex, and you have the very reason why our justice system is a mess. The fact that they have continued to appeal a measly $1,500 claim for FIVE YEARS(!!!) shows you all you need to know about them. They're crooks! As a tenant myself, I  always worry about what I might do--even unknowingly--that may cause legal repercussions for myself, so I try to document and photograph everything. It's sad to know that in Texas, the tenant does not have the legal system watching our backs, yet we literally throw away our hard earned money each month when we rent. Something is definitely NOT right.

TXsharon
TXsharon

Great job digging in on this! The laws need to change but that's not likely to happen anytime soon in Texas where corporations and businesses are favored about people always. 

jglaser1000
jglaser1000

@super40chic 

I agree with you.  Hope these people will get on Yelp.com, RipOffReport.com and other ratings systems to get the word out!

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@jglaser1000 that address is Denton County, and the property pays taxes to Denton county

sleepyhead420
sleepyhead420

@fir3walker oh, you told a funny there. at least about the attorney general looking for wrongdoing.

fir3walker
fir3walker

@rlisch6 I think the best solution is to avoid Centerpoint and call for an investigation of Patty Larson to see if she's getting paid by Centerpoint.

jglaser1000
jglaser1000

@rlisch6 

You are so far off base, why did you bother commenting?  You assumed full occupancy along with the number of units that you made up. There's never full occupancy at this place. You also assume a yearly turnover to come up with your ratio. What about the tenants that have been there 5 or 8 years.  People that need cheap rent often don't pick up and move every year, it is just not feasible.  AND, you assume that this judge started seeing the cases from the beginning of her 2006 tenure.  Why would a Denton Court be involved in a Dallas Case? Do you think this Apartment Complex has been going up to Denton this whole time thinking that no one would get suspicious on why the cases are not being tried in Dallas where they are supposed to be?  -Seems like you are also a friend of these people!

fir3walker
fir3walker

@rlisch6 I agree! we need to get the word out that Centerpoint engages in these types of practices.

Too many sour grapes!

Centerpoint's motto:

"You can check out any time you like.  (if you have $3,568 handy)"

or, 

"CENTERPOINT - IT'S JUST CHEAPER IF YOU STAY... OK?"

MissMacy
MissMacy

@rlisch6 Not every case ends up in court. Most former residents pay up in order to avoid it.

amy.silverstein
amy.silverstein

And most of the lawsuits filed don't go to trial. There's only a trial if the person who is being sued files an answer and shows up to court. 

joe.tone
joe.tone moderator

@rlisch6 As it says in the story, that number of lawsuits does not include evictions.

jglaser1000
jglaser1000

@s2pid80it 

Yes, be educated enough not to let them take you to court somewhere else than the county you are in, because they just might have a Judge in their Pocket!


rlisch6
rlisch6

@whocareswhatithink  Unless the judge is getting something under the table, I'm not sure following the law as written is slimy.  At least Ms. Cadenas put her money where her mouth was and got the law changed.

rlisch6
rlisch6

@TXsharon Kudos to Ms. Cadenas for getting the law changed!  She didn't whine, she pushed for change and got it.    THAT

jglaser1000
jglaser1000

@fir3walker @rlisch6 

My exact thoughts!  What does Denton Court have to do with a Dallas Property? How did the Apartment complex even get the Denton courts to take a Dallas Court Claim?  -This is extremely suspicious!

NightSand
NightSand

@rlisch6 @whocareswhatithink I think if you read the story, Judge Larson treated the defendant like a child and didn't even acknowledge that the signature was obviously forged.   

 
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