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Hartwell apartment tenants vote to hire lawyers, threaten lawsuit against property management

City of Cincinnati holding a press conference about the apartment Tuesday
Williamsburg Apartment
Posted at 11:02 PM, Jan 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-09 23:30:28-05

CINCINNATI — Tenants are ready to file a lawsuit against the owners and property management company of Williamsburg Apartments in Hartwell.

Residents have complained numerous times about sewage leaks, flooding and no heat or water for months. On Monday night, they voted to have the Legal Aid Society of Cincinnati represent them as an organization, which includes possibly suing their landlords for what they feel are unlivable conditions.

On Dec. 28, WCPO crews toured two flooded units at the Williamsburg of Cincinnati apartment complex.

“It's just been really wet,” said resident Camryn Brown. “It’s just rushing water. It’s disgusting.”

Water dripped from multiple spots in the ceiling in Brown’s unit, and pieces of the wall were peeling off. In the bedroom, brown liquid spots collected on the ceiling.

Brown said she lost heat on Christmas Eve. The flooding began on Christmas Day.

A month earlier, WCPO reported on a water line break that left residents without water for four days. Residents said they received no response from their landlord when they asked when they would get their water restored.

During a meeting of the Williamsburg of Cincinnati Resident's Association, tenants filled out a questionnaire listing their problems. They plan on taking the list to their landlords and property management company.

Ed Cunningham, deputy director of Cincinnati's Department of Buildings and Inspections, confirmed to WCPO there are 70 cases involving Williamsburg, with 230 active violations and four orders to vacate. One resident said she received a notice to vacate Tuesday, Jan. 3 that stated said she needed to be out of her apartment by Friday, Jan. 13.

"My unit is horrible. I smell sewage every day. I have sewage that comes up in my apartment, but the apartment across the hall from me is swimming in sewage," said Rhonda Berry-Dear.

WCPO called Williamsburg Apartments Monday night. A woman who answered said crews needed to call back during normal business hours. Less than two weeks ago, a representative with Herron Property Management, which runs Williamsburg, released a statement about the ongoing issues saying:

"Herron management is pro-actively working around the clock to restore services to our residents from the bomb cyclone that has so severely affected our city. The flash freeze caused many landlords to deal with broken pipes. As a result, many of our tenants have been offered alternative accommodations during repairs and they’ve been swiftly relocated. We are grateful for the rapid response of Herron management in closely working with city officials and for their work in keeping everyone as safe as possible."

State Rep. Cecil Thomas was at Monday's meeting and said he had questions about the licenses for Williamsburg and if the landlords or property managers potentially violated them.

"This is a microcosm of a much bigger problem and hopefully other residents in other facilities will see this and say hey maybe we can get a voice and get some work done here," said Thomas.

The city is planning on holding a news conference about Williamsburg Apartments Tuesday at 11 a.m. at City Hall. The city manager and mayor are expected to attend.

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