Owners of Lake Arbor Apartments in west Charlotte have ordered residents to vacate the run-down complex to make way for major renovations. The owners are offering financial incentives, but legal advocates are warning tenants to beware of strings attached to the deal.
Only about 166 of the 296 units are occupied at Lake Arbor, off Tuckaseegee Road. The New York-based owners sent letters to all the tenants July 30 saying they would have to move. Most tenants have until December 31, but some have only 30 days to clear out, if their lease has expired.
The letter offers an "incentive package," including cancelation of past due rent and quick return of security deposits, if residents move out and return their keys and sign a legal release. But lawyer Jack Holtzman of the North Carolina Justice Center says tenants need to be careful.
"They really need to understand the legal consequences of signing it or not singing it. So we are encouraging residents at Lake Arbor to speak with an attorney first before signing any documents that Lake Arbor gives them," Holtzman said.
It's not clear yet what the releases say. City inspectors have found building code violations and safety risks at the apartments. Holtzman said people could be signing away their rights to sue.
The North Carolina Justice Center and Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy are offering free legal help. They'll answer questions at a community meeting this Saturday, Aug. 10, at 11 a.m. at Tuckaseegee Recreation Center.
Meanwhile, a collection of social service agencies is meeting privately with tenants to assess their housing needs and help find them new places to live. They include Crisis Assistance Ministry, Charlotte Family Housing, Community Link, and The Salvation Army. Those meetings continue through Aug. 15.