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Judge Approves Legal Settlement To Pay Former Lake Arbor Tenants

Parking lots at Lake Arbor Apartments are empty and the apartments are vacant after the owners ordered everyone out to prepare for renovations - and apparently a sale.
David Boraks
Parking lots at Lake Arbor Apartments were empty and the apartments were vacant after the owners ordered everyone out in 2019.

A judge has given final approval to a financial settlement between former owners and managers of a west Charlotte apartment complex and tenants who sued over poor conditions. The 106 former tenants of Lake Arbor will get shares of the $547,500 settlement in the order signed this week.

The former owners shut down the aging complex off Tuckaseegee Road last year after years of disputes with tenants and building inspectors over unsafe conditions.

The tenants had sued former New York-based owners Lake Arbor Dean TIC and Lake Arbor 80M TIC and their management company two years ago. They sought refunds of rent they said they were illegally charged during a time when conditions in their apartments were dangerous and building inspectors had ordered repairs.

The tenants and former owners settled the case in November and a judge approved the deal this week. Tenants will get 1.8 times whatever they paid. Some tenants will get more if they were sent collection notices by the landlord.

Serita Russell
Tenant Organizing Resource Center
Serita Russell

One of the former tenants, Serita Russell, said in a statement: “These landlords kept taking the rent and taking the rent, all the while refusing to fix serious safety problems in tenants’ units."

Russell was one of the plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit and helped organize tenants at the complex along with the Tenant Organizing Resource Center of Charlotte.

The former owners sold Lake Arbor last year for $14 million to New York-based URS Capital Partners. The company renamed the complex Nova Ridge and is in the midst of a planned $8.8 million renovation. The first units are expected to be finished in September.

The North Carolina Justice Center, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, and Robinson Bradshaw represented tenants. The lawyers will split about $78,000 of the settlement, or about 14%. The total cost of the lawsuit isn't known, but "greatly exceeds the amount requested" by the lawyers, according to a court filing.

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David Boraks previously covered climate change and the environment for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.