Creekside Corners tenants protest fees, conditions
Brenda Camp Yarbrough | 10/8/2013, 9:46 a.m.
LITHONIA Nearly a dozen tenants of the Creekside Corners Apartments in Lithonia have been picketing the complex over safety issues, add-on fees, fluctuating water bills, mold in some units, and one exit from the complex.
The protesters, armed with signs reading “Creekside Corners, Luxury Lie” and Creekside Corners Ghetto,” picketed the 444-unit complex on Sept. 27-28 and again on Monday.
Patricia Douglas, who has lived in the complex since 2007, said she’s being evicted for leading a renters’ protest over the issues.
“I feel this [eviction] is retaliation for the protest,” she said. “But I don’t regret standing up for fellow tenants.”
The demonstrators urged fellow tenants of apartment community at 5301 Fairington Parkway to stage a rent slow-down by paying on the fifth of the month instead of the first to force action on their grievances.
Harbor Group Management Co. of Norfolk, Va., runs the gated community of one- to three-bedroom apartments that lease for $695 to $1,000 monthly. Its regional office in Atlanta did not respond to numerous telephone calls for comment.
Attorney Denise Majette, who is representing Douglas in her eviction case, said the complex wants her gone by Oct. 24.
“If she does not, they have threatened eviction,” said Majette, a former congresswoman. “Miss Douglas will be homeless on the 24th.”
Majette, who is donating her legal advice to the other tenants, said the complex paints a beautiful picture when people apply.
“Then once you move in, they try to tack on additional fees that are not included in the lease,” she said.
For example, the complex has mandatory valet trash pickup for $18 a month.
“But then they say you have to put your trash out between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. with pickup between 8 and 10. If you have your trash can out after 9 in the morning, they fine you $100. If you put it out before 6 in the evening, they fine you $100,” she said.
Tammy King, who moved in this year, said unpredictable water bills are upsetting. She said tenants don’t have individual meters to measure their exact usage so they pay a monthly fee set by the management office.
“Mine fluctuates anywhere from $30 to $70 a month so it’s very inconsistent,” she said, “It’s tacked on to the rent payment. So I can go online to pay this month and my rent’s $845, next month it could be $875. It’s just water and sewerage charges.”
Tenants also said management has closed one of the exit gates, causing traffic into and out of the complex to back up at the front gate in the mornings and evenings.
In a Sept. 27 letter to tenants, Harbor Group regional manager Lara Stoughton wrote that the back entrance gate was closed for security reasons.
“This is intended to prevent unwanted guests and non-residents from entering the community,” she said. “We have already seen a significant reduction in criminal activity on the property. Taking this step violates no legal responsibility of management and meets all fire marshal codes.”
Regina McClain, who has two children, said her two-bedroom unit has an extensive mold problem.
“There was mold in three closets,” McClain said. “I was worried.”
Instead of relocating her to another apartment, she said she was sent a Sept. 20 eviction letter citing a clause in the lease that says tenants must keep air conditioners on from June through August to prevent mold.
“I did run my AC through the summer whenever I needed it. I talked with a mold repair service and they said AC can’t prevent mold and can sometimes make it worse.”
A DeKalb State Court will hear McClain’s eviction case within the next 30 days.