19 News Troubleshooter getting results for a man with a collapsed ceiling at an area apartment complex

New management company took action
Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 11:18 PM EDT

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The 19 News Troubleshooter getting results for an apartment complex where some residents say they had unlivable conditions.

Just one day after our 19 News Troubleshooter report aired on September 7th about a collapsed and leaking ceiling, as well as other serious problems at The Colony apartments, the new management company Smartland took action. Fixing some of the issues residents pointed out. But, Smartland says the former owner Montlack Realty, “Ran the apartments into the ground.”

19 News was able to confirm that there is a history of code violations at the apartments located on Van Aken Boulevard with some buildings in the city of Cleveland and others in Shaker Heights.

A list of eight and a half pages of Point of Sale violations was laid out by the City of Shaker Heights Building and Housing Department, in a July 12, 2022 letter to Van Aken LLC (which has Smartland as the management company overseeing the apartments).

Among the violations: Loose and flaking paint, light fixtures that need to be made fully operable, broken doors, a saggy floor, several inoperable smoke alarms, cracks in a wall greater than 1/8″ in width, a bowed ceiling, missing Certificate of Occupancy at the main entrance, gas fired appliances in need of shut-off valves and numerous issues involving windows.

Residents who contacted 19 News pointed out numerous problems in just one building alone, a broken front security door that they say led to outsiders breaking into storage rooms and attempting to break into apartments, rotting trash just laying on the ground after dumpsters were removed, rodents, and a collapsed, leaky and molding bathroom ceiler that cancer patient Jerome Saunders had been forced to live with for more than a year.

Saunders told 19 News, “It was a major, major health concern because there was mold everywhere, it was really toxic as far as I was concerned.”

But, the new management company Smartland contacted Saunders just one day after he told his story to Just One Station, and they made several repairs. The trash dumpsters were returned, the front security door lock was replaced, the washer was repaired after it was broken for a month, and for Saunders it was like Christmas when his leaking ceiling was finally repaired, “I think when this got on the news, and you went and spoke to somebody there and said hey, let’s talk, they didn’t want to see you.”

Vadim Kleyner with Smartland tells 19 News, “We just took ownership of The Colony apartments in June. The property was in unbelievable disrepair by the former owner and we have now hired more staff to address the issues.”

Kleyner even told 19 News, they are willing to let anyone out of their lease if they don’t want to live there, because he understands there is a lot of work that needs to be done and it will take some time. He says when they initially bought the property they did not really have a maintenance staff and had to bring in people from other locations. He says he realizes there are more problems they need to address, but it will take some time to do all the repairs.

19 News did reach out to the previous owner’s of the apartments, Montlack Realty, we are waiting to hear back.

But for now, Saunders has his quality of life back, “Absolutely. The whole energy of the place is different just having that done.”