Senior tenants fight big rent increase, with more to go

BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) – Hundreds of senior citizens across Buffalo are anxious to see if their fight against steep rent increases is paying off.

Within 24 hours after contacting Call 4 Action, those seniors were notified those big rent increases were being walked back to reasonable levels. But a new property management company has taken over, and those older tenants told us they had other troubles, besides the rent.

Dozens of tenants at Walden Park Senior Apartments met with News 4, to tell about steep rent increases, which they notified their Common Councilman about – but they had other issues. A new management company had taken control – Corvus Property Intelligence, based in Maryland – and they were changing some of the rules.

“I was upset that the rent would go up extremely high like that, especially for us seniors, and I am a senior,” Audrey McClure said.

Tenants also told News 4 reserved parking for tenants whose mobility is impaired had been revoked, and some of the tenants whose rent is going up had leases going into late this year, or next year.

“Our lease is a contract, so if you have signed your contract prior to August 1, what gives them the right to say that we’ve got to back date this from now on, that you’ve got to pay this amount?” asked Ada Hopson-Clemons. “Because a contract is supposed to lock you in for a period of 12 months.”

Tenants of other senior apartments managed by Corvus, such as Hertel Park Apartments, had similar complaints, which they took to Housing Opportunities Made Equal, or HOME, Associate Director Dan Corbitt told News 4.

“If someone makes clear that there is a disability-related need for an exception to that otherwise-legitimate policy, it is the obligation of that housing provider to grant that accommodation request,” Corbitt said.

The city’s Fair Housing Office, under the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency, is also looking at some of the issues with the senior apartments managed by Corvus. Corbitt told News 4, tenants who get their government benefits mid-month have talked about being assessed late fees.

“What we are hearing is that management is enforcing these late fees in situations like that that are really beyond the tenants’ control,” he said.

HOME is building a file from those senior complaints, and housing rights officials tell us it is best to try to resolve issues – if necessary – in writing, before taking the case to the next level. So far, as we have seen, Corvus Property Intelligence has been responsive.

Al Vaughters is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 1994. See more of his work here. To submit a Call 4 Action, click here.

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