RICHMOND HEIGHTS, OH (WOIO) - Richmond Heights City Council member at-large, Juanita Lewis, is speaking out and hoping to help residents at Loganberry Ridge Apartments stand up to their landlord.
“I think they are taking advantage of the tenants,” said Lewis about Roco Real Estate, a Michigan-based company that owns and runs the Loganberry Ridge Apartments.
You may remember our recent series of stories in which residents took Cleveland 19 inside their apartments to show us their poor living conditions.
A fire destroyed parts of their building, and Roco Real Estate suddenly failed to finish construction on their units, but there was more: unsafe conditions like hallways without smoke detectors and fire extinguishers that didn’t work.
Cleveland 19′s Harry Boomer traveled all the way to Bloomfield Hills, Mich. to get answers for residents who were still forced to pay rent to live in substandard housing. We saw it for ourselves. Roco Real Estate had refused to answer our repeated requests for comment leading to our 192-mile journey to ask in person.
In the end, no one from Roco Real Estate would talk on camera about the tough situation their residents face, but they did release a statement:
"The City of Richmond Heights has announced its intention to terminate power to the top two floors of Building F at Loganberry (26720 White Way Drive) on Wednesday October 4, 2018 at 12:00 PM. Loganberry Ridge Apartments cannot interfere with any lawful orders or notices. Contrary to news reports that the Management of Loganberry was knocking on doors Saturday night, it was not. The people knocking were representatives from the City, communicating their plans.
Ever since an arsonist set fire to our building, we have had contractors working to restore the situation in every section of the building that we are allowed to do work in. However, since there is still an on-going investigation as to the cause of this fire, the City has not yet released certain parts of the building back to Management, so we have been unable to do any work in those areas. As soon as the investigation is complete, we will immediately get started on the remaining work.
In the meantime, we have offered to do whatever work the City of Richmond Heights would like us to do in order to prevent our residents from being made homeless by this situation. That offer still stands. However, any determination or action to remove residents from their homes --- such as hutting off the power --- will be done by the City of Richmond Heights independent of property ownership. We remain committed to working cooperatively in the aftermath of a fire that was caused outside of our control and are taking proactive steps to maintain necessary the health and safety of our residents. We have already relocated all handicapped residents from upper floors, but, we simply do not have the ability to relocate all the residents."
-Sofia Iglesias, President, ROCO Management
Fast forward to now: Lewis and her fellow city council members will be empowering residents with information on what to do to hold Roco Real Estate accountable and to form a tenant association. She has this to say to Roco Real Estate:
“I would tell them to come down and walk through all of their buildings. They are getting their rent, they are charging good money for those apartments. So, I think they need to step up to the plate and do what they have to do. Would they want their family living in those conditions?” said Lewis.
There will be three meetings next week at Loganberry Ridge Apartments beginning at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 22 at Building F.
Lewis says city council doesn't want to see the place shut down, they just want Roco's management to fix what needs to be fixed.