PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Elderly low-income tenants are taking their landlord to court after they say the company has been breaking Oregon law for years, leaving them in unsafe and dirty conditions.
Half a dozen tenants of the Allen Fremont Plaza apartment building in Northeast Portland filed the lawsuit — suing Reach Community Development.
Tenant Mary Rouse, 82, has lived in the building for more than two decades.
“We just want to be at home. Feel at home,” Rouse said. “And I’ve been through different changes. But now what’s happening now is the worst times of all.”
The owners promised to fix problems seven years ago, but since then tenants say they have been forced to live in unsafe, filthy conditions because the landlord fails to maintain the property.
Emily Templeton, the attorney representing the tenants, explained “these habitability issues have been ongoing for years, and the landlord has done nothing about it. Many of these tenants are elderly. They’re on a low fixed income. They can’t afford to do these repairs themselves.”
Their attorneys, with the Underdog Law Office have documented front doors missing locks, exposed wires, fire hazards, broken lights throughout the building. Templeton also noted tenants being locked out of bathrooms.
“Bathrooms downstairs that are locked, forcing tenants to defecate in their pants because they can’t make it up to their own unit, their own bathroom,” Templeton explained.
Templeton added “elevators that don’t work. Many of these tenants are disabled. And there’s been times when the elevator’s been out for five, 7-10 days and they’ve either been stuck in their unit, or they’ve had to crawl up and down the stairs to get to medical appointments.”
By filing these lawsuits, they hope to push the executives to treat the issues with the urgency they deserve.
“I just hope by talking with you today, that it will make a difference,” Rouse said.
KOIN 6 News reached out to the landlord, Reach Community Development, for comment but did not get a response.