A lawsuit filed Feb. 11 by seven tenants against their downtown landlords alleges squalid living conditions in the apartments above a Portland landmark.

The plaintiffs: Seven tenants of the Stewart Hotel at 127 SW Broadway

The defendants: Leon and Pamela Drennan and Pennie Narver, who are associated with the building's landlord and owner.

Wesley Appling (above) and six other tenants are suing their landlord at the Stewart Hotel. (Wesley Lapointe)
Wesley Appling (above) and six other tenants are suing their landlord at the Stewart Hotel. (Wesley Lapointe)

At issue: The Stewart Hotel, located next to iconic strip joint Mary's Club, is filled with single-room-occupancy apartments. It's both a relic of a bygone Portland and a desperately needed home for low-income Portlanders. Monthly rent is about $600.

The claims: The lawsuit, filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court, documents shockingly unhealthy conditions for Portlanders finding shelter there, even as the hotel's caretaker has filed for bankruptcy and apparently abandoned all care of it.

The lawsuit lists a horror show of conditions: "holes in walls, cockroach infestations, lack of heat, persistent and potentially dangerous mold, broken washers and dryers, debris in common areas, bed bugs, and inadequate plumbing."

Portland lawyer Michael Fuller, who filed suit on behalf of the tenants, called the conditions "shocking," particularly because of their location downtown —"right under people's noses."

Inside the Stewart Hotel. (Wesley Lapointe)
Inside the Stewart Hotel. (Wesley Lapointe)

What the plaintiffs want: Up to $4.5 million—"$635,657 per plaintiff for physical injuries and emotional distress."

Mark Allison, 54, has lived in the building for six years, because he didn't want to be on the street. He says his wife is sick from the mold. "We had nowhere to go," he says. "Everybody is saying they are not going to move."

Mark Allison (right) is among the tenants suing the landlord of the Stewart Hotel. Michael Fuller (left) is his attorney. (Wesley Lapointe)
Mark Allison (right) is among the tenants suing the landlord of the Stewart Hotel. Michael Fuller (left) is his attorney. (Wesley Lapointe)

Allison says he's constantly worried about the state of the building, particularly the old wiring, which he fears could catch fire. "We don't get much sleep around here because I'm afraid it's going to go up in the air," he says.

The defendants say: Attorneys for the landlord and owner say the defendants are not legally responsible, and that Fuller is trying to extract money from them during a bankruptcy proceeding.