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Cleveland to file civil lawsuits against out-of-town landlords who fail to address property issues

City leaders will allocate funding and law department resources to take legal action
Cleveland to file civil lawsuits against out-of-town landlords who fail to address property issues
Posted at 10:26 PM, Feb 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-01 23:29:32-05

CLEVELAND — Frustrated tenants living at the Residences at Shaker Square apartments in Cleveland were relieved to hear the city will soon take legal action against out-of-town landlords who don't remedy property issues.

News 5 has reported on tenant complaints at the complex over the past several months, but the city and people living at the property report few improvements have been made by property owner Chetrit Group, headquartered in New York City.

Tenant Chimene Anderson attended the Feb. 1 news conference, as the City of Cleveland announced it's new legal intiative that will utilize resources from both the city law and building departments.

Anderson claims she and ten other tenants have had to find other forms of heating at their units for nearly two years.

“We have been in-and-out of that office, we have been lied to, deceived, all they say is it’s going to be fixed," Anderson said. “I take it as a slap in the face. Basically damn the other ten units that have been without heat for two years, they don’t care, they don’t care."

Anderson said she's been forced to use her oven just to stay warm, something that has her concerned about her safety.

“I use one space heater, because if you use two it’s going to blow a fuse, so you have to open your oven as well," said Anderson. "I put mine on 400 and I have to sleep with it open.”

News 5 reached out to Chetrit Group by phone multiple times on Feb.1, but just like several other attempts made over the past several months, we're still waiting for a response.

Cleveland to file civil lawsuits against out-of-town landlords who fail to address property issues
Cleveland City Council President Blaine Griffin announced a new city legal initiative to go after delinquent property owners.

Cleveland City Council President Blaine Griffin told News 5 the city will allocate significant funds to its legal initiative, but couldn't get specific on how many dollars will be set aside for the program. Griffin said funding levels will be discussed when the city starts budget talks on Feb. 14.

Griffin also said out-of-town property owners who don't appear in housing court on code violations and are found to be in contempt of court will face a civil lawsuit. Griffin said the city must get tougher on delinquent landlords who have left tenants in bad living conditions.

“This is one of the most deplorable situations that I have ever witnessed in the City of Cleveland," Griffin said. “When I have to get calls in zero-degree weather on Christmas morning from residents because there is no heat in the building because there is no hot water, it's terrible."

Shaker Square leader Jay Westbrook, who is with the Morelands Group applauded the new city legal initiative, hoping it will somehow trigger improvements at the Residences at Shaker Square and work to preserve affordable housing units in the area.

“They don’t intend on putting any money back, they only want to take money out, that is not the Cleveland way," Westbrook said. “There’s 2,000 units of affordable housing right here, 1,000 of them are at risk of being lost.”

Meanwhile, Griffin said he believes a civil lawsuit will soon be filed against the owner of the Residences at Shaker Square.

“The time to be nice is over, the time to be cordial and ask is over," Griffin said. “They are already working, and the law department is already working on the paperwork to file against them already as we speak.”