Residents at The Vue apartments in Beachwood estimate that about 50 people are filing roughly $100,000 worth of rent payments to the Shaker Heights Municipal Court over concerns that ownership and management aren't addressing problems at their apartment complex.
"We've all been denied our rights as tenants for a variety of reasons," said resident Neil Weinberger. "They don't want to recognize that."
At the beginning of the year, News 5 reported on repeated maintenance issues at The Vue apartments. Frozen and broken sprinkler pipes flooded nearly 20 apartments, causing thousands of dollars of damage. Residents came to News 5 when they felt like the building's ownership, Strategic Properties of North America, and the building's management, Stark Enterprises, weren't doing enough to deal with the problems or address residents' concerns.
February 1 was the first time rent was due since the issues started, and February 5 is the last day to pay rent without late fees. Instead, residents are paying their rent to the court, showing the owners and management that they're serious about being treated better.
"The rent strike is paying our rent, we're just paying it to the court and the judge will ascertain as to whether our claims are legitimate or not," said Weinberger.
He says mediation with ownership started Friday and lasted through the start of the Super Bowl, yielding nothing.
So far, residents say management has given breaks on rent where apartments have flooded, but for everyone else, there's been nothing to make up for the ordeal.
Charlotte Srithai's next door neighbor thought he had a gas leak this morning, and her three-year-old is now terrified the alarms will go off again, but her biggest concern is that her neighbors shrug them off now.
"They have to say, 'We're not holding up our end of the bargain, if you want to leave, go,'" said Srithai. "Or, 'We're going to make it right.' There's none of that."
All in a spot residents tell us over and over again they picked because it's supposed to be the best.
"We don't feel very confident that things are going to change and improve," said Weinberger. "We feel that there's not a budget in place to operate the property at the level we all anticipated and was marketed to us."
Read the statement from the company below: