Oct 21, 2022 - Real Estate

Richmond apartment complex files to evict half of tenants

Illustration of a hand about to pick up the last house surrounded by leftover imprints of other long gone houses. 

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Four months after buying a 500-unit apartment complex in South Richmond, a New York City–based investment company has filed eviction lawsuits against half of its tenants.

What’s happening: A total of 255 residents of James River Pointe were scheduled to appear in court for eviction hearings this week.

  • Tenants described a messy ownership transition, poor record keeping by management and suspicions that they are being forced out so the new owners can renovate their units and raise rents.

Why it matters: The cases offer an up-close look at how some corporate landlords are treating low-income tenants following the expiration of state-level eviction protections.

Context: AION Partners bought the complex, formerly called Aden Park, in June for $77 million.

It’s the company’s second large rental property in the region, coming after its February purchase of the 1,200-unit Pointe at River City in Henrico, where it initiated eviction proceedings against nearly a quarter of residents.

What they’re saying: The company, which has a track record of high eviction rates in other markets, said in a statement, “We can confirm that some residents have received legal notices from the landlord/tenant court to appear regarding their outstanding balances. … Any evictions that have taken place to date are in accordance with the judgment of the court.”

Tenants tell Axios that the previous owners encouraged them to apply for rental assistance from the state, but they said the company’s record keeping was poor and now worry they are being asked to pay rent that was already covered by rent relief.

  • Some said efforts to address questions about the balance AION says they owe have been ignored by the company’s management.
  • “It feels like they are intentionally trying to push us out so they can renovate and charge $1,500 per apartment,” said Dorie Iverson, who was in court for a hearing on Wednesday.

What’s next: Some of the cases, like Iverson’s, were continued. In others, like the case of Myokia Johnson, the company won eviction judgments that allow it to force tenants out.

  • Johnson, a bus driver who said she was told by the prior management that her rent was covered by the state’s rent relief program, said she planned to start looking for a new place to live immediately, but wasn’t hopeful.
  • “I have no idea where I’m going to go,” she said.
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