After months of complaints from tenants, a landlord in the Allied Drive neighborhood has removed two problematic property managers.
When confronted over reported problems with management of his properties at 2314 and 2322 Allied Drive for a Cap Times story in June, landlord Karl Bestul said the issues were resolved.
But tenants living in the eight-unit buildings continued to experience problems and threats of eviction over the summer months. Now Bestul says he’s removing the property managers, Daryl Oestreich and April Sutherland.
Assistant City Attorney Jennifer Zilavy hopes this will steer the apartments in the right direction. If not, she may have to look into “other avenues to redress some of these issues.”
“I’m encouraged that (Bestul) willingly came and met with me and he expressed to me that he also wants the situation to improve,” Zilavy said. “If changes don’t come … I’m kind of feeling like this is his last opportunity to get it together.”
Tenants can also voice their concerns at an Equal Opportunities Commission meeting at 2313 Allied Drive on Thursday, Sept. 13., 5 p.m.
Bestul did not immediately respond to a request for an interview.
Police brought the apartments to Zilavy’s attention late last year because of the poor condition of some of the units. One example: a building inspection notice from last August required, among other improvements, carpet cleaning, repairing windows, replacing door jams and floorboards, cleaning mold and replacing a missing smoke alarm.
Police officers and tenants told Zilavy that tenants received frequent eviction threats “really for people just exercising their right to decent, safe and sanitary housing,” Zilavy said.
But asked about these practices, Bestul said problems were resolved as far as he knew: he told his property managers to stop threatening tenants and almost every item listed by building inspection was completed.
In the following months, Zilavy continued to hear about threats of eviction, complaints about the property managers and the ongoing issue with bed bugs and cockroaches.
“I told Karl that I was being asked by various agencies in the city to do something about him, and that the public nuisance action and Equal Opportunities Commision were potentially things that could be happen,” Zilavy said.
Bestul told Zilavy that Sutherland will no longer work for him and Oestreich will work only as a maintenance employee. A new property manager will come on board at the end of October.
Zilavy said that it seemed Bestul was unaware that the property manager’s bad behaviors had returned. Bestul also hired a pest control company to spray the properties multiple times.
“We’ll see what happens with April (Sutherland) off the property, if things settle down in terms of threatening to do this, threatening to do that,” Zilavy said.
Even if things change, it’s too late for a tenant who spoke anonymously to the Cap Times in June. She believes her fears were founded; she’s being evicted and thinks Sutherland and Oestreich figured out she was the unnamed source.
She was given a 28-day notice of nonrenewal of tenancy to vacate the premises before Sept. 30, which Bestul has now extended until Oct. 30.
Living on disability with a fixed income, plus a daughter and premature infant grandchild living in her apartment, she doesn't have money saved up for a move or security deposit, she said. She’s afraid potential landlords will find out her current apartment has bed bugs and turn her down.
“I don’t know what else to do anymore around here. I hope like hell I can find something. My main concern now is this little girl, getting a roof over her head,” she said.