COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Owners of Colonial Village have to bring the property into compliance by fixing code violations, increasing staff, maintenance, security, cameras, and lighting — or face receivership.
Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein says people living at the properties on Rand Avenue and East Livingston Avenue have suffered enough; the 30-day window for Colonial Village’s owners to make improvements has real consequences.
According to the court order, residents have to contend with bed bugs, rodents, roaches, water damage, no utilities, lack of air conditioning units, broken windows, rotting doors, and debris-filled gutters, among other problems.
On top of the difficult living conditions, police went there 700 times for drug overdoses, injuries due to assault, shootings, stabbings, and dead bodies in the past 18 months, the release said.
Klein explained to NBC4’s Cynthia Rosi what’s coming at Colonial Village under the court order.
NBC4: What can the tenants expect from this process?
Klein: There’s no doubt that there are salt-of-the-earth people living at Colonial Village, that they’re trying to raise their family and live their life in Columbus in Colonial Village. The problem is there’s agitators, violent individuals, and a negligent landlord who refuses to take care of the property.
That’s why my office, the city, the Columbus Division of Police and Code Enforcement now have an active case in front of the environmental court judge, to hold those landlords accountable, to lift up that community and give those kids…a chance to succeed. They deserve that.
NBC4: What can the residents expect to see changing in their environment?
Klein: Over the next 30 days the current landlord and owner has the requirement to clean up the property, to bring it within code, to get rid of the infestation, to improve the property…to improve public safety. They have a hard stop as far as I’m concerned at that 30-day window.
When the 30 days is up, we are going to move forward with asking the court for a receiver to come in to take control of the property, and that receiver will clean it up if the landlord fails to do it.
NBC4: How will it affect the tenants if Colonial Village goes into receivership?
Klein: I hope that it affects the tenants in a positive way. If the landlord/current owner fails to clean up the property in the next 30 days, that they are only going to see improvements in their quality of life and their safety from this point forward. That will be my office’s goal in working with the division of police, working with Code Enforcement, working with the court, and ultimately working with the receiver as one team to lift up the properties and the families at Colonial Village.
NBC4: What if the landlord fixes some of it?
Klein: This has been cyclical with this ownership group and other ownership groups, that they will do things that we ask them to do, to address nuisance both code and safety issues, and things will slightly improve, and then they will drop the ball and fail to do it.
Again, crime will go up, and conditions will deteriorate. We’ve had enough. That’s when we went to the court and said we need to have consistent improvement with the property both with habitability, and with safety. The court agrees with us, which is why they gave them the drop-dead 30-day window, 30 days is done and we are immediately going to move for the receiver so that the tenants of that property can see these improvements.
It’s going to be an all-or-nothing approach for this current owner in the next 30 days. Any sort of weakness in their approach that they are doing is insufficient as far as I’m concerned and we’ll ask the court for as much which is why we will seek a receiver, Klein concluded.
Hearing on September 14
There will be a hearing on September 14, 2021 to see whether the complex owners are in compliance, contempt, or any other remedy available by law, including receivership, the City Attorney said.