The developer who attempted to illegally evict people from the Town Creek Condos in three days the week before Thanksgiving -- and then backtracked when reporters showed up to ask why -- is getting residents to leave for good this time. His property manager Rena Hansen has been going around with workers and police escorts to board up the empty units.
Well, mostly empty.
Hansen did file paperwork to evict tenants this week, but one normally takes that step before boarding the place up.
The remaining residents have, unsurprisingly, not embraced this development. This week, Hansen canceled her onsite office hours because, she says, a dozen tenants have become "unruly" and threatened to murder her.
Allison Griffin, spokesperson for Town Creek owner Ari Nessel, explains in an email:
As I mentioned, there was a group of about a dozen residents yesterday who became unruly and made threats toward the property manager (i.e. "If these cops weren't here, you'd have a bullet in your head") and the crew of workers who were securing empty units. The two DPD officers who were present threatened to call for back up and take people to jail, but the crowd settled down and no further action was taken.
Griffin says that boards have only prevented one woman from entering her home. The tenant "is still waiting on [the Dallas Housing Authority] to finalize her moving plans." The boarding was done with the tenant's best interests in mind, Griffin assures us, because her windows had been broken. Her unit "was secured for her own safety and the protection of her belongings." And the tenant will regain access to her stuff when she finds a new place to live: "[Property Manager] Rena [Hansen] assured [the tenant] that she will be able to get back into the unit once she has a new home and is ready to collect her remaining belongings."
Many of Town Creek's tenants refer to it as "second chance housing" for people who are convicts or have bad credit history and won't be accepted by most complexes. For that reason, some remaining residents say they're struggling to find new homes. One such resident, Kim Moore, said she had planned to be out by this week when she learned from her new landlord that her new place isn't ready yet. Moore says that Hansen knocked on her door Monday, yelled at her and threatened to file for eviction.
Jimmie Baldwin, another resident preparing to move, said he returned home Monday to find Hansen and two police officers outside his door as workers drilled through the nob. They stopped the work when he told them that his dog was still inside. (Griffin offers a slightly different story, that Hansen "did not know he was still living there until he showed up when they were preparing to enter the unit to check on its status.")
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The mass kick-out has been botched from the start. Shortly after Nessel bought the Town Creek Condos in late November, property manager Hansen put a notice on residents' doors informing them they had exactly three days to move. Then Nessel sent each resident an apology letter, saying they'd get an unlimited amount of time to move and money to do it, going above and beyond what's required of a landlord. But a few weeks later, residents heard second-hand that they needed to be out before Christmas. They complained that they were having trouble reaching Hansen to get an exact move-out date or the financial aid they'd been promised.
Griffin, the spokesman, now says residents were only eligible for financial help if they provided documentation that they found a new place to live by December 19. Under those guidelines, five people have qualified for financial assistance, Griffin says. As of this week, she says that evictions are being filed on 14 remaining residents. "As you -- and probably they -- know, the actual eviction process takes several weeks, which gives them more time to stay rent-free at Town Creek while they try to find another place to live."
Of course, if the owners had simply started by following eviction law -- which allows a landlord who plans to renovate or tear down a residential building to evict tenants with 30 days notice --then maybe the premature work on units that aren't yet empty, the "unruly" tenants, the death threats and the 14 tenants currently enjoying what is surely a luxurious rent-free stay could have been avoided.
Send your story tips to the author, Amy Silverstein.