Tenants cautiously optimistic as city begins inspections at Park Place

Inspectors from Cleveland’s Rental Inspection Unit and Health Department converged on an east side apartment complex Wednesday morning for a three-day review of the complex’s 122 apartment units. Located in the 1400 block of East Blvd., Park Place Apartments has been the target of a News 5 investigation into tenants’ allegations of deplorable living conditions inside the low-income housing complex.

As part of the lengthy inspection, city officials will ensure that the apartment units are safe, sanitary, clean, maintained, and pest and contaminant-free. Inspectors will also make sure the unit’s air conditioning and heating works.  Inspectors will issue violations to the landlord if issues are found, city officials said in a release. City officials have not specified whether the inspections were prompted by complaints. Officials from Michigan-based companies American Community Developers and Independent Management Services, who own and manage of the complex, downplayed the inspections, calling them "routine."

For the past three weeks, News 5 has been investigating Park Place apartments and the maintenance-related issues prevalent at some of the units at the sprawling complex. The issues at Park Place include persistent leaks from the roof and plumbing fixtures, the presence of mold, broken furnaces and air conditioning units, and stoves and ovens that don't work. One tenant’s leaky ceiling from an upstairs shower caused the floor in her dining room to begin to rot. At one point, mushrooms began to grow.

Latavia McNeil said she has had constant issues with rats, mice and other vermin in her apartment. There have also been plumbing-related issues, she said.

“There’s been multiple floods on the third floor and in the building,” McNeil said. “There were plenty of times where we [were] like, ‘wow, it’s been months and we [made several complaints] and no one has come to fix anything.”

Allegations of deferred maintenance or no maintenance at all were a common theme in conversations with more than two dozen current and former tenants of Park Place.

“I think there’s like black mold growing in the back of the sink. I try to spray it down with bleach. I told them about it but they really haven’t done much about it,” said Johnnisha Taylor. “I don’t know how many times I reported my door not properly being [installed], to the point where it’s really cold in the winters. My front door, when you walk in, it’s kind of weak. I feel like if somebody wanted to knock it down, they could.”

Officials from the ownership and management companies have vehemently denied the issues at Park Place are a result of deferred maintenance. A company representative insists the complex has an aggressive maintenance staff and pest control program. Additionally, the company representative said the issues at the apartment complex are isolated to only a couple of units. Those issues, the representative said, have been fixed or are in the process of being fixed.

“We will continue to cooperate with the city,” the company representative said.

The city’s Rental Inspection Unit was created after voters approved Issue 32’s income tax hike. The goal of the program is to ensure residents have safe and healthy rental housing, city officials said in a release.

Since July 2017, inspectors had conducted 3,351 inspections and registered nearly 50,000 rental units.

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