Bedford Heights woman receives vacate notice hours after speaking to 19 News about electrical problems at apartment

Published: May. 17, 2022 at 6:37 PM EDT
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BEDFORD HEIGHTS, Ohio (WOIO) -On Monday, a group of electricians made their way to Michelle Vaughn’s apartment after she pleaded for help from 19 News.

Vaughn told 19 News last Friday that most of the electrical sockets and light switches in her apartment stopped working on March 29, and the power crunch problem has yet to be fixed.

Michelle Vaughn, who lives in the apartment at Southgate Manor, said, “I went in the kitchen and I was like hold on I don’t got no lights!”

So she called the 24-hour maintenance team.

“He came and he flipped the box, and unscrewed the box out the wall, and was like, ‘oh I don’t know what happened,’” explained Vaughn.

According to a letter sent to Vaughn on April 29 from apartment management, the electrical issues were due to maintenance that had been done on the roof, and they took $100 off her rent.

During the 19 News Troubleshooter team’s visit last Friday, Vaughan flipped switches in the hallway, both bathrooms, and both bedrooms.

Nothing turned on.

She even showed us her kitchen where she has one good outlet, and rotates her appliances.

We did discover a couple of outlets in her living room that did work.

“You have 152 units in here and if I’m paying $930 - that’s a lot of money,” said Vaughn. “You have the money to hire somebody.”

A crew from EDEN Housing, a nonprofit that helps Vaughan pay her rent, also came to check out the problem.

EDEN sent a letter to the apartment stating the electric issues needed to be fixed in 30 days, or they would withhold payment.

Right before our team left last Friday, a letter was placed on Vaughn’s front door.

It said an electrician would be there next week.

To be fair, we stopped by the leasing office to get its side of the story about the ongoing problem, and about the Monday promise.

Nobody was made available to meet with us.

However, a phone call from the apartment’s attorney, Lisa Friedman, was followed by an email:

“There are no civil claims pending relating to these issues. Our client’s records reflect that all maintenance records are up to date and that there are no outstanding requests for additional maintenance. My client will follow up with the tenant’s newly reported complaints and maintenance requests.”

Our team also reached out to the city of Bedford.

We spoke with the Mayor and the head of housing.

They told us they were aware of the problem and could confirm that they had not been notified that it had been fixed.

However, they did know an electrician was working on the job.

Less than 4 hours after our story ran on Friday, Vaughn received a notice to vacate. Telling her, her lease is expired and she has until June 30th to leave.

Vaughn contacted 19 News and EDEN Housing worried she was being retaliated against.

We called both EDEN and the apartment building on Monday to ask about the letter.

The apartment management told us on the phone that no letter was sent to Vaughn and to contact their attorney, Lisa Friedman.

Friedman, responding to our request with this statement:

“The letter that you have sent to me, was given to the tenant because her current lease is expired. She has refused to sign a new lease. Further, this expired lease is a violation of her housing voucher”.

-Lisa Friedman

EDEN Housing sent us this statement:

“Due to EDEN’s Confidentiality Policy, I cannot provide any specific or detailed information concerning a particular participant’s tenancy without their permission. However, speaking in general terms, In the event a participant receives a notice of non-renewal of a lease or believes his/her/their landlord has not followed Ohio Landlord-Tenant Law, EDEN may attempt to mediate between the landlord and EDEN’s participant to resolve an issue and/or refer the tenant to Legal Aid for legal representation. EDEN is not a party to the lease agreement.”

- EDEN Housing Executive Director, Elaine Gimmel

19 News will continue to check in on the progress of the work being done to Vaughn’s apartment and asking questions about the notice to vacate.

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