The Delta Plaza apartment complex in South Dallas recently gave its tenants a little midweek surprise: On Thursday, they found out that they all had to move. Tenants say they got the news via a note on the door, apparently taped there by the property manager.
"You have violated your lease contract as stated below," says the typed form, dated October 3. In a blank space, "prohibited conduct" is written in cursive as the reason for why each tenant is being evicted.
The property manager "didn't even knock on the door," Wanda Feagins, a tenant, tells Unfair Park. She says that she's on fixed income and has nowhere else to go.
Delta Plaza was recently the subject of a pair of stories in The Dallas Morning News. The first, published on September 30, detailed a police raid on the complex two weeks before during which cops found lots of drugs, guns and cash. Two people were arrested.
The second, published less than a week later, reported that Anwar Sajan, the complex's owner, had shut down the complex after giving residents 24 hours' notice.
"I don't want any kind of charges against me because this thing is happening on my property," he explained to the paper.
The irony is that, in shutting down the complex so hastily, he may have violated state law. Under Texas Property Code, tenants who receive a "Notice to Vacate" are normally entitled to stay there for three days before the landlord gets to sue them in eviction court. And that's assuming that everyone in the building was actually guilty of "prohibited conduct," which doesn't appear to be the case.
One resident, who asked not to be identified, tells Unfair Park she's lived at Delta Plaza for years and signed a renewal lease only three months ago. She doesn't know where she can stay with all of her stuff on such short notice. "I've just been overwhelmed," she says.
Another tenant, Barbara Watkins, has been staying at the complex with her boyfriend to make sure their stuff doesn't get stolen. Since the eviction notice, "we haven't seen no one" other than a couple of maintenance men bringing the units up to code and the eight or so residents who have stayed behind. None have received their security deposits back.
Maureen Milligan, the Dallas Assistant City Attorney, says that city officials are working closely with the landlord to make sure that the building is getting up to code.
"We're out on the property very frequently," Milligan tells Unfair Park, "and if any tenants approach us and want to reach out to me, to see if any city resources" are available, she's happy to help.
But Milligan maintains that it's not the city's responsibility to look into whether Sajan's mass kick-out was legal, because it wasn't the city's decision to close the building down. She says that was all Sajan's idea, and that he could have fixed the code violations with people still living there. "The owners can abate the code violations whether the apartment is occupied or unoccupied," she says.
She adds that she doesn't want people to feel abandoned. She says that she left her card in the manager's office. "If there are folks looking to see if there are city resources out there, they can contact me," Milligan says.
Sajan could not be reached for comment.