Response to city action on 1901 Richmond

Some facts about 1901 Richmond and this process in general:

  • We bought the property a bit over 2 years ago. Almost every tenant in that property, since we took over, has been replaced. With the units being HEAVILY upgraded (we’ll post some before and after our our Richmond property page when time permits). There are only 9 tenants left from when we took over (4 of them are Vets. 2 of them are older ladies that have lived there forever. One of them helps look after the place. And the other two previous tenants have given us no reason to remove them)
  • After buying the property, we immediately started cleaning the place out, kicking out drug dealers, clearing out units that were basically used as whore houses or smoke rooms. We locked up all the units that people had been squatting in (we’d find people hiding in the kitchen cabinets, seriously). Many of those original police calls were *from us* (or from tenants who called the police when we started taking their stuff out).
  • When you quickly kick out 20+ people in a known bad property, and you’re working to quickly clean it up and re-lease, you’ll often get a few new tenants in that first new wave that are not the best. We had that issue, and expected it. We dealt with those tenant issues as they came up. Boot-Remove-Replace. Slowly but surly, the bad apples shook out.
  • We began to take tenants from MCC (Montrose Counseling Clinic), which I believe to be a good organization. Sadly, some of those tenants were not the best, so we’ve had to remove them and can no longer accept them. I respect the group so I won’t go into what % of our problematic tenants were from them, but it was on the high side.
  • Soon after we did a big chunk of the clean out, we received a call from the city that said due to PREVIOUS years of crime at the property (before we took over), we would have to steer the property through the “Remedial Action Plan” where we pay the city a bunch of money for them to tell us what they want done (make sure lights are on outside, trees kept trim, trespassing affiliated in place, etc.).We’ve done it before on the other Skylane properties: 219 W. Alabama [now “The Spur”], and 502 W. Alabama [basically across the street from our office and across from where several Fat Property employees live]. The ‘suggestions’ are basic stuff we had been doing as part of common sense — but we got to pay the city to be told what to do. But whatever. Cost of doing business. Given that we were doing everything that they wanted to see done, the property was taken out of the remedial action plan after my 6 months of probation.
  • A few months ago, we were contacted by the city to say that there was some issues with some of the tenants. **EVERY TENANT they had issues with had already been evicted and was gone, or were in the process of being evicted before our meeting** They asked us to sign a paper saying we would do xyz (stuff like put cameras up — which we already had. Have exterior lighting — which we already had. Get rid of a group of tenants they called out — which we had already done or had already filed on. Hire a security guard — which is ridiculous, but we did it anyway. And gate the entrance to the courtyard of the property (where less than 1/2 the units are). This is the only one we didn’t do, which is why we assume this law suite was filed. We’d still get called from time to time and would be told to replace some steps or add additional fencing — all of which we happy did.

This property has not been the primary focus of the company for a while as we’ve bought new properties that were much worse and needed more help (our stuff in 3rd ward, our stuff in Midtown). The city should ask the Midtown Management group the turn around at Holman for example. Holman made 1901 Richmond look like a catholic girls school. Now Holman is quite and clean. Or the before/after at our 3rd ward properties. We don’t want a medal for fixing up some of those other garbage properties because, as we’ve said, we have my own selfish reasons for upgrading them: It makes economic sense to do so, and most of our management team lives in the same area as these properties. We don’t need an attaboy from the city, but how about a look at the totality of what’s done. Or put this 1901 Richmond property in perspective of OTHER properties around town that are 100x worse.

It’s my STRONG believe that the city doesn’t are as much about other properties that are outside the notable areas. You don’t have the same neighbors making the same complaints to their connections in the city who will actually listen. A cigarette butt on the sidewalk of your property in Montrose will have you cited, but you can have a building full of drug dealers a few miles away and the city doesn’t care [‘as much’ — to be fair].

We know this to be true as we’ve been fighting with the drug dealers who used to populate the Holman property (as we did in the Richmond property in the beginning). We end up being the one to kick in the doors and run people off at night. We’re not complaining that the city leaves these other properties alone as it’s allowed us to clean them up much faster then if they tried to ‘help’.

The city solution to getting rid of bad tenants? “Write in your lease that if they do anything wrong, they’re gone”. Oh, that’s a great suggestion. So let’s say we do that, and they do something wrong, then what? “Well, then tell them to leave!”. Sure, we’ll tell them that, and then they don’t leave. Then what? “Well, they have to!” Well, let’s say they don’t. “Well…”. Do you know how many drug dealers we’ve known that were selling that we’ve tried to get rid of and it takes MONTHS sometimes? Finally we’ll go kick them out in own way and the cops get called — on us. Does the city know the property code? I’m not a lawyer but it often seems we know tenant law better than most people that should be experts.

There are so many protections in place when trying to get rid of tenant. Which fine. We can see the arguments to protect renters. And honestly, it’s not as bad as it is in other states. But the fact is, it can take months to get rid of someone — so don’t have the expectation that we can just “make” someone leave right away if they break a property rule or even a law. We already travel into gray space when cleaning up a place.

At 1901 Richmond, we had a tenant who we evicted that was still in the property. The cops did a huge drug bust on him. We thought “awesome, they got rid of him for us”, yet the next day he was back and he got to stay another month before we could get rid of him.
Finally: Let’s be realistic. What our company is doing isn’t really lowering crime persay. We’re just moving it. All the people we’ve kicked out of Holman or Richmond just go somewhere else. Which, selfishly, is fine with us. Someone elses problem now. But if the city is looking at the issue as a whole, even the good we’re doing isn’t solving anything. It’s just moving crime out of areas where people are more likely to complain about it to areas that are not.

I’ll keep this page updated as we learn more about the suit.

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