Three elderly residents at the Holgate Manor apartment complex in the Creston-Kenilworth neighborhood are suing their landlord for $9 million.
The lawsuit argues the property owner and manager subjected the residents to elder abuse in an attempt to disband a tenants union, retaliate for a rent strike and force the renters out. The landlord has been trying to empty the complex to remodel and raise rents.
Anna Lendya, 92, Vera Kozakevich, 79, and Stepan Mironicheno, 91, are the plaintiffs in the case.
The abuse allegations stem from conditions inside the apartments, where large appliances like water heaters were allegedly improperly installed, wiring was exposed, and mold grew. The 204-page complaint lists dozens of violations within the apartment building that it alleges negatively impacted the elderly tenants.
The City of Portland found 92 code violations during an inspection of three units in July.
"We have evidence of hundreds more violations throughout the three units that our clients lived in from January 2018 to October 2018," says the tenants' lawyer, Michael Fuller. "We estimate that the tenants of the Holgate Manor Apartments as a whole likely experienced several thousand violations over the past year."
Holgate Manor was the first large complex to try to convince a large number of renters to leave their apartments after Portland City Council passed new regulations to protect tenants. The new city policy required landlords to pay moving costs for anyone displaced by a no cause eviction.
After purchasing the complex for $12 million, the new landlord—a California investor—offered tenants up to $5,200 to move out of their units in early 2018. Then, the owner raised rents 9.9 percent. Contractors began construction on vacant apartments, making life more challenging for the renters still living in the buildings.
But some residents still refuse to leave.
The modest apartment complex had for decades been a landing pad for immigrants and refugees who needed affordable housing.
Tenants advocates helped organize a rent strike this fall, with at least four tenants withholding rent while demanding better living conditions and the right to stay in their units.
Jill Eiland, who works for the public relations firm representing Princeton Property Management, says the company cannot comment at this time on pending litigation.