Ypsilanti Township prepares legal action after locating owner of apartment complex
Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com
Township officials now have a clearer picture of the River’s Edge apartment complex's ownership situation, but they still have no better idea when or how the multitude of issues at the 162-unit complex will be addressed.
A representative from a court-appointed receiver in charge of the property at LeForge and Clark roads contacted the township on Jan. 30 after reading a Jan. 29 AnnArbor.com article about problems at the complex.
Now, the township is preparing to file a lawsuit against the receiver in an effort to have the deteriorating buildings brought up to code. The issue could be brought before the Board of Trustees at its February meeting.
Carla Thornton, a representative from the Farmington Hills-based Finsilver/Friedman Management Corporation, told Building Director Ron Fulton that her company was appointed receiver on June 1, 2011, by Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge Melinda Morris.
Next Door defaulted on its mortgage in March, and the mortgage is now held by Citizen’s Bank. That subsequently led Citizen’s to sue Next Door, and the parties agreed to put the complex into receivership under Finsilver/Friedman’s control.
Next Door Apartments technically remains the property’s owner, though all management responsibilities and assets have been transferred to Finsilver/Friedman.
The June 1 transfer to Finsilver/Friedman came two weeks after an initial notice of violation detailing issues at the property had been issued to River’s Edge managers.
Fulton said Thornton told him the company had received the notice and a subsequent notice issued on July 25, but the company has yet to take any corrective action.
Thornton did not return calls from AnnArbor.com
Tom Perkins | For Ann Arbor.com
“Nothing has been done and they have the (notices of violation)," Township Attorney Doug Winters said. “And they’re in charge of the complex.”
Winters outlined the problems in the notices of violation. Among other complaints are:
- Deteriorating and leaking roofs.
- Leaking windows.
- Missing siding.
- Missing trim.
- Deteriorating porches that are separating from the buildings.
- Sinking footings.
- Overflowing Dumpsters.
“That is a sad commentary both as to what has transpired at this multi-unit complex during the time period Finsilver/Friedman has served as the receiver and since the Township continues to receive numerous complaints from residents who have to deal with a number of issues,” Winters wrote in a Jan. 31 letter to Thornton.
The complex has a high occupancy rate, and Fulton said the township receives complaints from residents about leaking roofs and windows.
Next Door's mortgage dates back to 2007 in the amount of $5.6 million and records show it owes more than $307,000 in back taxes on the property.
Finsilver/Friedman can either manage the property until the debt to Citizen’s Bank is paid off or sell the complex.
River's Edge is one of several problematic apartment complexes in the area. Neighboring Eastern Highland's ownership situation between jailed landlord David Kircher and Barnes and Barnes is in legal limbo. That has left several large buildings neighboring River's Edge vacant, though Fulton said they are secure and safe.
Across the street, Huron View Apartments, which is in the city of Ypsilanti, was hit with a rash of burglaries last year and management had refused requests by tenants for extra locks for protection.
Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 2:34 p.m.
After reading some of the comments left, it seems many people don't understand how this system works these days. Unlike the past, most properties are owned by investors. These investors have have no interest in management, they just want to make a buck. A property management company is contracted to run the "investment". This is why things get sticky- the property manager can only spend what the owner allows, if the owner is in default he doesn't have the cash to invest in repair. The management company doesn't own the property so they are not going to pay for repairs. Until the default is final the bank doesn't really own the property so they are not likely to spend money either. Since the tenants are complaining rather than moving, it would seem that they have nowhere else to go. Unfortunatly the most likely ending to this is going to be eviction for all, with the bank selling the property vacant. It sounds like repair would not be profitable without a major rent increase. So the whole complex will be torn down or repaired as high rent units. In either case the current tenants lose. Without seeing the books its hard to place blame. Some owners are cheap and some managers are poor at their jobs. The key is for Ypsi to act fast when complaints are given so properties never get to this point of disrepair.
Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 4:05 a.m.
From the mentality exibited here, It's hard to understand why landlords would ever get involved in this business. Sell out and return these carpers to sleep in the streets or their parents basements. They have no understanding of income and expense.
Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.
And what is your vast experience as a landlord of hundreds of units? Please advise so these "carpers" know best how to respond.
Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 2:14 a.m.
Don't forget that this is right in EMU's back yard. I expect that there is going to be no shortage of pressure to resolve this as no parent wants their child to attend a college with this property glaring right at it. By the way, leaky roof sounds minor. Look at the photo. A little spot repair is not going to fix this problem. It looks like one heavy snow fall away from NO ROOF. I hope all those people have renters insurance.
Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 4:22 p.m.
when I was a student years ago I dealt with landlord clowns like these - they never had answers. If my roommate's dad was not a lawyer they would have never even answered our inquiries. then recently I became involved in rental properties and saw first hand what some of these guys go through in dealing with tenants getting rent: "I dont have it - I will call you next month when i do" is common --- even though they have cable, internet and cell phone services they maintain, rent is the last thing they want to pay ... I was always taught its the FIRST thing you pay of course trashing the place is common and so on for every good landlord and good tenant there are ones on both sides that lead to these situations
Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 4:09 a.m.
Wise move Thad, The era of "You owe me " is upon us.
Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 9:15 p.m.
So true, lumberg48108. Speaking as an experienced "landlord" I now what you are saying. When keeping a roof overhead (paying rent) should be the first priority for renters, it is too often the last. Depending on jurisdiction, property owners are often very hand-tied as to how fast they can evict, let alone force to pay or collect on most tenants. A process that can take many years to get a partial (if any) payment at all. We (like just about every other American region) are seeing an increasing number or properties/ housing communities in the A2-Ypsi area go notably downhill. I don't know specifics on the property owners/ managers in each case. I can see circumstances that would put even the most astute, consciencious and responsive property owner/ manager in this kind of situation though. When money is so lean to start with these days, and almost everything one may have is invested in the property(ies), if very many tenants start falling behind on rent, then it's all downhill from there. Rather than using the rent money and time to maintain the property, the property owner/ manager is instead forced to legally chase those who owe rent, while trying to borrow and buy time until maybe some of the owed monies come their way.... While a large corporate property manager might be able to liquidate such properties at a song to someone who'll bring them up to code, most property owners/ managers cannot do that. As deeply invested as a lot of the smaller property owners/ managers are, selling (particularly a property that wont readily sell for a large sum) is not a viable option anyway. While it can be easy to "vilify" landlords of particularly low-income families, there are definitely two-sides to this dynamic. I am very glad to have sold my last rental property last month. Never again do I want to deal with tenants. Sadly, I have grown to understand first-hand how the term "social garbage" came to be....
Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 3:18 p.m.
This place needs more then they are telling us.Years ago I worked for a handy man service co out of A/2 when a co called BRG owned them.We were contracted to replace light`s repair bath tub surrounds.They were bad water had made it`s way behind the tiles and into cheap drywall.Needless to say tiles were falling off the wall`s there were more tile`s in the tub then on the wall`s.Renters had made make shift wall`s with black plastic trash bag`s.The bug infestation in the wall`s was so bad and it smelled it was god awful.When we told the management we were told just use your shop vac and suck them up from the wall cavity`s you have open.The light fixtures we took down would be full of dead and alive ones crawling around.Just use your shop vac and put new fixtures up but caulk around the base so bug`s can`t get out.Time to use it for fire dept training that way they can kill 2 birds with 1 match.Clear the eye sore and get rid of the bug`s all in 1 day.
Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 2:45 p.m.
Not sure if you are saying BRG owned the handyman service or the complex. BRG has holdings in both types. I currently work for BRG and this does not sound anything like them. BRG has been fantastic since they bought the property I manage, spending thousands on property repairs long overdue and NO hesitation in keeping the place high quality.
Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 3:54 p.m.
Brrr. That sounds pretty terrible.
Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 2:38 p.m.
Is it in the best interest of the community to try keep these buildings? Are there homes available elsewhere in the community for the current residents, and has the topic of moving been talked about with them? How many shabby apartment buildings do we need? People need to live somewhere, but that somewhere should be a good place, and the township and city both need to come down harder on slum-lords who demolish their own buildings through neglect.
Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 3:39 p.m.
A lot of students from EMU live there because it is so close.
Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 1:26 p.m.
OK, so the bottom line is this, tear them down and charge the bank and the people they are suing. Nuff said. Ypsi Township always finds their victims and tells it like it is. Tear it down. Going to be an empty area out there.
Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 3:41 a.m.
Actually you're not... what?
Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 10:38 p.m.
Actually I'm not. When Ypsi Township gets involved the buildings do get torn down. Last month? That gas station. So, yes, it will get done.
Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 3:52 p.m.
Yeah, tell us again how tough Ypsi Township is and how this would never happen here.
Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 1:06 p.m.
With the exception of the roof situation, these other problems seem piddly. There has to be more going on behind the scenes. I'm sure it will have a lot to do with delinquent rents. When your out-go exceeds your income, your up-keep will be your downfall !
Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 1:42 p.m.
And foundation work, over flowing dumpsters, missing siding, and leaking or broken windows? Cheap? Have you ever had any home repairs done? Work like this in just one residential unit isn't cheap let alone hundreds!
Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 4:17 a.m.
Joy, reading is fundamental, what part of "exception" do you not comprehend?
Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 3:38 p.m.
Piddly? I guess you have no idea how a roof leak can lead to mold and other problems. Ypsi is full of slumlords who don't care as long as they get their rent.
Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 1:57 p.m.
I think the largest of the listed issues is actually the sinking footings, assuming we're talking about footings for the buildings. Foundation work is never inexpensive. Repairing the porches won't be cheap because cement is expensive these days. A leaking roof can also beget mold, which can be expensive to mitigate. Half of the stuff on the list is piddly, but they all cost money to fix.
Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 12:53 p.m.
This makes the Township and its attorney look kind of inept. They could have found this out months ago by simply running a title search and then searching circuit court records for any litigation involving the title owner.
Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 3:53 p.m.
But Machine, the First Amendment is extra tough in Ypsi Township, the Chuck Norris of Townships.
Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 2:45 p.m.
A) The First Amendment (freedom of speech, establishment clause, etc.) is irrelevant. Maybe you mean Fourth Amendment (unreasonable search and seizure) but even that doesn't apply in this case. B) Anyone can have a title search run on any property and anyone can go to the courthouse and look through court files. Those are all public records.
Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 1:28 p.m.
Not necessarily. There is the first amendment thing. Sometimes you can't always tell who really owns something with digging and getting dirty first. Gotta do things delicately. Then go for the throat. Which is what they are going to do next.