Renters complain of ‘dangerous’ living conditions at Magnolia Gardens Apartments

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Renters in Richmond’s East End are sick and tired of living in what they called dangerous conditions at a community meeting on Friday.

The circumstances have become so dismal at Magnolia Gardens Apartments that residents have turned to elected officials and fair housing advocates for help.

“A lot of people have safety concerns,” Omari Kadaffi Guevara said as he walked an 8News crew through Magnolia Gardens, showing us where neglect has caused his neighbors to get injured on numerous occasions.

He pointed out where his neighbor fell when a damaged staircase gave way under her.

“She actually hurt herself falling down the stairs because of a weakening,” Guevara said, gesturing to the stairs leading up to a neighbor’s second-level apartment.

Guevara has spent the past several months documenting weak stairs, broken handrails and rotting or crumbling floors. During 8News’ visit to the complex, he pointed out a brick missing from a window, leaving one apartment unit open to the elements. He and other tenants said their calls for help have gone ignored by property management.

“It’s very obvious that there’s been a lack of any significant maintenance here for a long time,” said 6th District Councilwoman Ellen Robertson. Many of the tenants renting at Magnolia Gardens are elderly, disabled and on a fixed income.

The city’s code enforcement is now looking into potential violations at the complex. “There were some complaints about insects, there some complaints about leaky plumbing, and there were some complaints about lack of insulation,” said Code Enforcement Operations Manager John Walsh.

“There were some complaints about insects, there some complaints about leaky plumbing, and there were some complaints about lack of insulation,” said Code Enforcement Operations Manager John Walsh.

Under Virginia Law, landlords must follow codes affecting health and safety, making all repairs needed to keep the place livable.

In an email, KRS Holdings director of operations Jennifer Perrow told 8News the property management company is investigating the situation and would take the appropriate action at the earliest possible opportunity.

In the meantime, Robertson is helping tenants get legal aid while pushing for more affordable housing in Richmond.

“When we don’t have affordable housing, we have slum landlords that take advantage of folks that have no other choices,” Robertson said.

According to Housing Opportunities Made Equal, if repairs are not made in a reasonable time, you can take your landlord to court with a “rent escrow” case.

To do this, you must be current on your rent to your landlord. To find resources on landlord disputes and tips for tenants, click here. If you need legal aid, follow this link.

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