Residents of the University Oaks apartment complex off Atlanta Highway say they’ve been dealing with some serious issues including flooding, mold, non-functioning AC units and a lack of security that management, according to them, has been unable or unwilling to address.
The Apartment Manager’s response when a tenant passed out flyers and started talking to her neighbors about these issues? He threatened her with arrest.
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There is a lot of visual information presented in the video that’s not included in the transcript below, so we recommend watching instead of reading. But, we’ve got the transcript if you prefer to read, as well:
Residents of the University Oaks apartment complex off Atlanta Highway say they’ve been dealing with some serious issues including flooding, mold, non-functioning AC units and a lack of security that management has been unable or unwilling to address.
This is Lesli-ann. I stopped by her apartment to see what was going on.
Lesli-ann: “Around April, things started to get pretty bad. So, I ended up with the kitchen sink leaking, the kitchen ceiling leaking, the dishwasher leaking, the water closet leaking and the bathroom leaking all in one week.”
Lesli-ann: “This is separating. So, what used to happen, pretty much a few months after I moved in, into the newly renovated unit, was everytime it rained, it would rain inside.”
She’s been dealing with these problems constantly but says maintenance staff has been slow to respond.
Lesli-ann: “They’re constantly understaffed. These buildings were built in 1960. There’s about 500+ units, I think closer to 520 units, most are occupied. They have five maintenance guys.”
Lesli-ann: “But this whole thing is… he just replaced this, but like this whole thing is rotted out. In the winter, it bangs. It sparked once. I told him, I can send you that email.”
APN: “And they won’t replace it?”
Lesli-ann: “No, he said we’ll wait and see.”
And this is a newly renovated unit. Leslie says that every building in the complex is dealing with the same problems, some much worse than hers.
Lesli-ann: “So this was advertised to me as newly renovated, and pretty much the only difference between my apartment and some of the ones with real issues is the paint and the floorings are different.”
Then, we went to visit a neighbor of Leslie’s, who has also been dealing with major flooding and air quality issues.
Lesli-ann’s neighbor: “I have a tray in here to catch stuff. All this mold and or mildew and if you look up there, you can see the insulation is black.”
Lesli-ann: “It should be yellow.”
Lesli-ann’s neighbor: “Yeah. And this, I kept, is what our air filters look like after just a few weeks. So this is original where it happened, and you can see that is what our tack boards look like. That’s all been soaked. You can see that it’s started to mold and mildew.”
APN: “What happens when you call them and ask them to fix something, they don’t, like…”
Lesli-ann’s neighbor: “So when you call and ask them to fix it, it depends on who I guess you’re talking to. They normally come out, look at it and then never come back.”
Lesli-ann: “There’s consistently new maintenance guys because they always quit. The office is consistently understaffed, and instead of this large corporation with multiple units in Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, instead of them fully staffing the office what happens is there is constant and consistent chaos over there, and then the office staff takes it out on us and maintenance does the quickest possible fix that they can to say that they have addressed x amount of issues in a day. The tenants end up paying for it.”
Lesli had had enough, so she decided to organize her neighbors to do something about it.
Lesli-ann: “No one is leaving reviews about what is going on, so I decided that I would do these posters, encourage my neighbors and if they don’t know how to leave Google reviews, I would take the time and teach them. I put these posters up on about four buildings before I accidentally put one on a maintenance worker’s door. He called management.”
Confrontation with management
Lesli-ann: “I’m littering? You’re calling the police for what now? What are you calling the police for?”
Apartment Manager: “You’re not authorized to put notices on the buildings, you need to stop.”
911 Operator: “Athens-Clarke County 911.”
Apartment Manager: “Hey, good evening, this is Joseph Boronat. I am the manager of University Oaks apartment building.”
911 Operator: “Yes, Sir.”
Apartment Manager: “There is a resident putting notices on all the doors, people are throwing the notices on the floor, she’s littering the property. I’d like to get her arrested for littering.”
Lesli-ann: “You’re going to have me arrested because I have an issue?”
911 Operator: “Okay, is this 2360 West Broad?”
Apartment Manager: “Yes, it is, ma’am.”
911 Operator: “And you said she lives in (censored).”
Apartment Manager: “She lives in apartment (censored). She’s littering the community, putting notices on the doors, they’re not authorized to.”
911 Operator: “Okay. Where was she last seen at?”
Lesli-ann “Can you explain to me how that’s illegal though?”
Apartment Manager: “She’s at the T building right now.”
Lesli-ann: “Can you explain to me how my actions are illegal?”
Apartment Manager: “Would you please stop filming me? Would you please stop filming me?”
911 Operator: “Hello?”
Apartment Manager: “I’m sorry, ma’am.”
911 Operator: “Did you want to meet with an officer?”
Apartment Manager: “Yes, ma’am.”
911 Operator: “Did you want her barred from the property?”
Apartment Manager: “I would like her barred, absolutely.”
911 Operator: “If she is a resident, you won’t be able to bar her.”
Apartment Manager: “I want to bar her from the common areas. I mean she can stay in her apartment. But not authorized to put notices.”
911 Operator: “Is she white, Black or Hispanic?”
Apartment Manager: “No, she’s Black.”
911 Operator: “Do you know what the flyers say?”
Apartment Manager: “Yeah, the flyers say ‘Has management addressed issues in your apartment?’ It’s in red, it’s highlighted in red. ‘Were you informed of crimes committed on site?'”
911 Operator: “Okay. Do you see any weapons on her?”
Apartment Manager: “No, not that I could see on her.”
APN: “Did the police come out?”
Lesli-ann: “Oh, of course. He said he didn’t know if I had a weapon. Four cars showed up. Four cars showed up for one girl. And thank god that at this point, my neighbors who had been watching me, they come right over. Like, they’re going to be witnesses to this. They came right over to make sure I was okay.”
Tenant 1: “So, the tenants are not allowed to unite?”
Apartment Manager: “No, not on private property. You may live here, but you don’t own this property.”
Tenant 2: “Permission from somebody in one of these buildings to do that, she ain’t allowed to?”
Apartment Manager: “No, she’s not.”
Lesli-ann: “I am absolutely allowed to. That’s why he made up a crime and said to them that I was loitering and littering and intimidating people, none of which happened.”
Tenant 1: “Police don’t matter, right? Because think about it, anybody can come through here and put notes on doors.”
Lesli-ann: “Exactly! They put car wash notes, all of that. Now two police cars have showed up for someone who lives here.”
Tenant 2: “Dang. It can’t be a crime! Because this is America, and there’s freedom of speech, freedom of media, freedom of what is it called, gathering?”
Lesli-ann: “It’s constantly fighting and having to remind them I have already lost friends to covid. That happened to me very early in this thing. And, I lost my friend because he had asthma. And when you’re being exposed to black mold, you will get sick. That migrates to your lungs. That puts you at risk of dying of covid. In a pandemic, that has already taken two people, I am sitting here fighting with my leasing office and property manager and district property manager to take this seriously, to pull it out, so that I am not breathing this in, or for you to let me out of my lease. “
Lesli-ann: “If I could have a true resolution, it would be that none of the tenants here have to live like that. And that Athens… I know that Georgia doesn’t have much tenants’ rights laws, but Athens is 60 percent renters, at this point. There should at least be a local ordinance, maybe even just for covid, that they can’t do this to us. You can’t just put up a board over mold that you know is there, we both saw it. So, that would be my ideal resolution, honestly, that not just my apartment gets fixed or even just this complex, but that Athens would really consider looking at some legislation around this.”
Multiple residents beyond that pictured here contacted APN with stories and pictures of unresolved issues.
University Oaks Responds
University Oaks says they treat all plumbing problems as an emergency and have plumbers on call 24 hours a day. “That’s something we don’t take lightly,” said Joseph Boronat, Manager.
University Oaks says they have adequate staffing and are doing a good job of keeping on track with fixing maintenance issues.
Boronat says he called the police on Lesli-ann because she was passing out a “slanderous” notice in violation of her lease, which according to him says tenants are not allowed to petition or pass out flyers to their neighbors.