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Concerns linger for Autumn Ridge and Capitol Village tenants

Posted at 7:33 PM, Jan 31, 2020

LANSING, Mich. — Residents of Capitol Village and Autumn Ridge apartments in Lansing will not have to vacate their units.

It's an update to a story Fox 47 has been following all month.

Back on January 6, the city's Code of Compliance Office posted notices at both complexes telling tenants that they would have to be out by the end of the month.

The end of the month is here and while tenants don't have to leave, many are still worried that could change down the line.

"Is somebody going to tell us we have to leave and what if we don't have any time to find a place, so it is pretty nerve-wracking," said a Capitol Village tenant who chose to remain anonymous.

"Rent due" signs are up throughout both Capitol Village and Autumn Ridge apartments. Even early bird rent specials were tucked into doorways, but these reminders have residents questioning if they should pay, as just a few weeks ago, hundreds of apartments were tagged by the city because they weren't up to code.

"I think we are going to pay rent, but it's kind of scary to do that though, because if we did that and they booted everyone out then you have to pay money to move to another place and pay a deposit," said a Capitol Village tenant who chose to remain anonymous.

The legal services of South-Central Lansing said they have been getting calls from these tenants and are suggesting tenants withhold February's rent.

"When a property lacks a valid certificate then the tenants' obligation to pay their rent is suspended," said Marissa Geyier, a staff attorney for Legal Services of South-Central Lansing. "So if they want to withhold their rent they should tell their landlord that they are doing it and that they are doing it because of the pink tag. They should place their payment into an escrow so the money has been set aside and that they still have it."

For those who already paid February's rent, attorneys say unfortunately there is not much of a claim to get it back.

"There is nothing under the law to say they should be reimbursed their rent, there's nothing to really sue your landlord to get that rent back so we advise to withhold your February rent," said Christina Corcoran, a staff attorney for Legal Services of South-Central Lansing

However, Corcoran says the early bird rent promotions are not illegal.

"It is contrary to the ordinance, but not illegal."

One Autumn Ridge tenant is taking matters into her own hands and moving out completely.

Fox 47 spoke with her back in December when her balcony was caving in and she had no hot water.

As of Friday, she's packing up her bags to move into her new house.

"When the pink tags went up, I used that as an incentive and (said) that I'm leaving," said Arianna Bott, an Autumn Ridge resident

Lansing's Code Enforcement Division said they had the Code of Compliance inspectors out Thursday.

The city also said the red tags that remain up on some apartments mean those units are vacant and the apartment complex cannot lease those out at this time.

Residents were also given a letter from the city saying they are working with management on a number of issues and have a new timeline for compliance to be achieved.

Fox 47 spoke with RESSCO, the group that manages both complexes.

They claim that the items the city wants to be done are not life and safety items and are part of their normal routine maintenance. They also say "we do not believe the 'tagging' was justified as the complexes have always been in compliance since we took ownership in 2014. The misleading and inappropriate “tagging” created a stressful situation for our residents that was not warranted. These units were certified and this was just part of the renewal process. We take care of our properties and remain responsive to our residents' needs and always work to make repairs in a timely manner.”

The city is referring tenants to legal services and housing clinics if they have questions about their lease and rent.

As of Friday, the city has not responded to Fox 47's questions about maintenance deadlines.

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