You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Lakeview Apartment tenants who had leases terminated file suit


Twenty-three people sued their former landlord for what they called deceptive practices that forced them to leave their East Austin apartments to expedite the sale of the land to a technology company that plans to build its new campus there.

The lawsuit, filed by former residents of the Lakeview Apartments in Travis County state District Court, accuses Cypress Real Estate Advisors of terminating leases early, failing to make health- and safety-related repairs for months, unlawfully locking residents out of their units and making false representations to pressure residents to leave before they had to.

“In their rush to make millions on the sale, defendants intentionally misled tenants, put tenants through undue hardship, discriminated against tenants, and created an environment of fear and anxiety to induce tenants into leaving,” the lawsuit reads.

Steve Clark, a Cypress representative who is named in the suit, said that a call from the American-Statesman was the first time he was notified that the group had been sued. He said he was reviewing the details of the case and that a third-party property manager from Dallas was in charge of maintaining the Lakeview Apartments.

“To the best of our knowledge, our property manager did not engage in any of those practices,” he said. “I am pretty certain we have acted in good faith throughout the process.”

The plaintiffs are seeking between $200,000 and $1 million in damages for loss of past wages and emotional distress. The plaintiffs also ask for damages from fraud, malice and gross negligence, and seek the payment of their attorney fees.

In December, Cypress sold the land for an undisclosed price to Oracle Corp., which will build part of its new 27-acre campus on the land that formerly housed the Lakeview Apartments, west of South Pleasant Valley Road near Lady Bird Lake. Oracle wasn’t named in the suit.

Clark said the process to move people out of the complex began long before talks about a sale to Oracle began.

In June 2015, the lawsuit said, apartment residents received a notice that said the complex would be demolished and management wouldn’t renew leases. In August, tenants received another note that said all residents had to be out of the complex by Sept. 30.

Some residents had leases that extended beyond that date, the lawsuit said, including some that ran through the end of that year. The suit alleges that residents were forced to sign “releases” of their unexpired leases “with no consideration or explanation” and were threatened with bad tenant references if they didn’t comply.

They were also told their electricity and water could be turned off and were refused repairs on air conditioning, heaters, stoves and refrigerators, the lawsuit said. They were also denied extermination of pests, the lawsuit said.

The plaintiffs allege the landlords used policies that discriminated against people based on race, color and national origin. The apartment complex was home to a large group of Latino residents who had trouble communicating in English as well as a family of Rwandan refugees who don’t speak English and, the lawsuit alleges, were forced to sign papers they didn’t understand.

On Sept. 30, the landlords taped a note on the on-site office door window that read “Closed for Eviction Hearing” and told some plaintiffs they would be kicked out of their homes at midnight if they didn’t move out that day, the lawsuit alleges.

In October, the landlords began filing evictions against residents regardless of when their leases expired, the lawsuit said, unless they had been granted an extension.

Several months later, former residents are still recovering from the hardship of being displaced, according to a news release by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, which is representing the plaintiffs. Residents who found new housing saw an average increase of $240 per month to their living costs, the group said.

In part as a response to the displacement of Lakeview Apartments residents, the Austin City Council will take up a tenant relocation assistance ordinance on Aug. 4. The ordinance would provide assistance to people who are displaced by redevelopment in Austin.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Shirtless man brandishing knives threatens Michigan restaurant patrons
Shirtless man brandishing knives threatens Michigan restaurant patrons

A man walked into a Michigan restaurant Tuesday, waving knives at customers and ordering them to leave, WJBK reported. >> Read more trending news The 26-year-old man walked into the Mexican Fiesta restaurant in Dearborn Heights and threatened customers, witnesses told WJBK. "He was really loud, and excuse my language, (he said) everybody...
83-year old allegedly steals ambulance, drives home
83-year old allegedly steals ambulance, drives home

An 83-year-old New York man checked himself out of a hospital in the middle of the night Tuesday and then allegedly stole an ambulance to get home, WNBC reported. Donald Winkler of Merrick reportedly was unhappy with the treatment he had received after being admitted to Nassau University Medical Center last week, so at 1 a.m. Tuesday he checked...
More millenials live with parents in S. Florida than anywhere else
More millenials live with parents in S. Florida than anywhere else

A new study suggests that millennials in South Florida live with their parents at a higher rate than anywhere else in the country. >> Read more trending news  The study conducted by Abodo found that 44.8 percent of millennials in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area still live with their parents. That’s the highest percentage...
Fire destroys North Dakota church owned by white supremacist 
Fire destroys North Dakota church owned by white supremacist 

A North Dakota church recently bought by a self-proclaimed white supremacist has burned to the ground, KVRR reported. >> Read more trending news  The Attorney General’s office said there isn’t any new information to release, but Craig Cobb said he knows the fire was set intentionally and believes it was a hate crime. &ldquo...
15% of UT women report being raped, Capitol hearing reveals
15% of UT women report being raped, Capitol hearing reveals

A survey of University of Texas undergraduates found that 15 percent of women reported being raped while enrolled at the Austin campus. The survey result, revealed Thursday during a Capitol hearing on four bills to address what was described as an “epidemic” of sexual assaults on college campuses, jolted several senators and brought promises...
More Stories