After the eviction notices were published, Avita CEO Cindy Levi threatened to sue for discrimination, and Alexander Properties Group agreed to extend the move-out date to May 1.
Levi said he met the group on April 14, and although the owner again agreed to extend the move-out date, this time until the end of May, they still insist on evicting about half of his customers.
“What they’ve told us,” Levi said, “is that out of the 44 units, they’re comfortable with renewing the leases on 24 of the units, and that’s their preference at this point that 20 of the units are not renewed.”
Alexander Properties Group declined repeated requests for comment.
Levi said the group decided to evict those residents because of lease violations, but she says the reasoning doesn’t hold up.
“We had asked them before the meeting to send us any lease violations they had recorded, so that we could respond to them,” Levi said. “They just brought a stack of papers with them… and before they left they handed them to me. I took the time to look through it and there was definitely evidence of a lease violation, and we knew it. And we’ve already started the eviction process for this person, because it really was a breach of lease.
“But we see no justification for them saying they don’t want to renew others,” she said. “Basically what they said was, ‘We really don’t want those people there. They have to go.
She will meet again with Alexander Properties Group on May 5.
“As we try to resolve this issue, I think they will hear very clearly that they have no grounds for non-renewal,” she said.
She said Avita had been supporting residents there for more than 15 years and there had never been a single non-renewal, a point the owner conceded, she added.
Alexander Properties Group provided some examples of lease violations, she said, but “they happened over several years, so it wasn’t even necessarily something recent.”
One incident involved a resident painting her own Georgia Bulldogs welcome mat outside her door, she said.
“Do you really want to expel someone because of this?” she says.
In preparation for the evictions, Levi said she scoured the county for affordable apartments and only found two or three units that could become available in the next two months.
“It just continues to support the fact that we don’t have enough affordable housing in our area,” she said.
She said the landlord was raising the rent by about $400, a concern also raised by residents who spoke to The Times.
James Hill, a 65-year-old truck driver, said he has lived in Pines of Lanier since 2010. He is not part of Avita’s program. He said his rent went from $748 to $993 for a one-bedroom unit. His lease is due to end in October, but if he decides to move, he said his options are few.
“I don’t know if I’ll find anything,” he said. “The rent keeps going up. … It’s ridiculous.”
Ruben Ortiz-Vega, 63, is a resident of Avita, and he said he believed Avita would find them somewhere else to live if the evictions materialized.
“I can’t do anything but hope for the best,” he said.