Watch a previous NBC4 report on Colonial Village Apartments in the video player above.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — City leaders are taking legal action against a condemned Columbus apartment complex after hundreds were found living in units that were under court order to be boarded up and vacant.
The city of Columbus begun the process on Monday to hold the managers of Colonial Village Apartments in contempt of court order, according to Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein. Declared a public nuisance in 2021, the complex failed to make improvements in safety, security and living conditions, Klein said.
“The lender, receiver, and former property manager took their eyes off the ball and fell short of their obligations to the city, to residents, to the neighborhood, and to the court,” Klein said. “Now, hundreds of residents are left wondering if they’ll have a safe, clean place to live and care for their families.”
The property’s lender — EFM Transfer Agent — and receiver — Kenneth Latz, Senior Managing Director of Riveron ETS LLC — had been given until Nov. 10 to present a plan to either bring the apartments into compliance or cover costs associated with relocating residents. Now that the deadline has passed, the city said the lender has declined covering costs for relocations and many units still have outstanding emergency violations.
Since the scheme was uncovered in October, former property manager, Hayes Gibson, has been banned from the premises. A new property management company, Capstone, took over at the end of the month and is working with the city to address emergency code violations.
Columbus police have opened a criminal investigation and the city’s Development office and Franklin County are providing impacted residents, children and families with resources to provide for material needs, resettlement assistance and housing support. Klein said the city will push for fines and other penalties under the contempt filing to include the costs associated with relocating residents.
Klein noted a separate condemned Columbus apartment complex, Latitude Five25, gave the city “an effective roadmap to quickly mobilize a response.” Still, Klein said Colonial Village has unique challenges given the sheer number of affected individuals.
“These situations may be different, but our priorities remain the same: to deliver relief to families and hold those responsible accountable for their negligence,” said Klein. “We recognize that these families have faced a traumatic experience by being brought to Columbus under false pretenses.”