A former East Portland tenant, who was forced out of her apartment after a $375 rent increase announced last summer, has filed $1 million suit against her former landlord for unsafe conditions and fees she says were unfair and punitive.
In a complaint filed today in Multnomah County Circuit Court, Aleina Langford, who now lives in Vancouver, Wash., alleges that A&G Rental Management wrongfully charged her $1,495 for a broken window and legal expenses and then sent a collections agency after her.
"When you make the choice to leave [an apartment], you shouldn't be retaliated against," says lawyer Michael Fuller, adding that two other tenants plan to file related lawsuits against the company. "This case is personal for me because I grew up in low-income apartments with a single mom."
The lawsuit does not name the owner of the building on Southeast Ash Street, but Fuller didn't rule out adding the owner to the lawsuit later.
The management company charged Langford for a window that was broken by squatters the night she moved out, according to the suit, as well as a $45 fee to end an eviction case, though none had been filed against her.
The suit also alleges that the landlord ignored unsanitary conditions at the building, including needles left by squatters, despite complaints from tenants.
"The management company sat idly by and ignored tenants' complaints about shootings, break-ins, drug sales, feces, prostitution, dirty needles, trash, and vandalism in the stairways to the Ash Street Properties," the suit states. "The management company repeatedly allowed trash and harmful debris to be dumped and strewn across the garbage area."
Erlin Taylor of A&G could not immediately be reached for comment.
After the building received the substantial increases, the renters rights group Portland Tenants United organized its first tenants union at the building and delayed the evictions for more than two months.