Tenant Files Suit; Alleges Apartment Violated Her Rights

Dale Dimitri. Texas City Sun. August 15, 1996

Texas City-The Gulf Coast Legal Foundation, on behalf of an indigent tenant being evicted, has filed a lawsuit against a Texas City apartment complex.

The lawsuit, filed in the 122nd District Court Tuesday, alleges the apartment management illegally:

  • Adopted rules that permit the landlord to violate the tenant’s privacy by not providing notification before entering the apartment;
  • Denied the tenant a right to an attorney or resident’s union representative during a meeting regarding the pending eviction;
  • Demanded $25 in cash before unlocking a door;
  • Prohibited tenant from having overnight guests;
  • And provided tenants an eviction notice that fails to advise tenants they have the right to meet with management to discuss the threatened eviction.

However, apartment manager Arie Becktol called the suits allegations totally “unfounded.”

The plaintiff, Virginia D. Schultz, is one of 63 tenants-out of 240 units- whose rent at the local complex is subsidized by the federal department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). She is being represented by attorney Stephen C. McIntyre through the Gulf Coast Legal Foundation, a United Way agency that represents indigent clients.

Schultz and McIntyre are seeking unspecified damages and an injunction against the eviction. Schultz still lives at the complex, as Becktol has only recently initiated the eviction proceedings.

“Obviously, the management must adopt some rules for the tenants to obey while living at the complex and most of the rules that have been adopted are reasonable,” McIntyre said in a statement, adding that the rules adopted by the complex are “wrong and unreasonable.”

“We look forward to working with the owner and manager in the coming weeks in revising the practices and rules,” he said. “I certainly hope that none of the indigent HUD families are evicted for violating any of the rules while we are meeting.”

Despite the detailed allegations included in the lawsuit, Becktol said the woman’s lawyer is “harassing me.”

“…we filed for eviction, for disturbing the rights and privacy of another resident,” Becktol said.

“I have never even talked to the woman and I’ve only spoken with her lawyer one time. He turned my words all around because he’s a lawyer and that’s what they do.”

As for disallowing guests to stay overnight, Becktol said the complex has a policy that is typical of the apartment industry which allows tenants to have overnight guests but not for any longer than three days at a time.

Becktol said the reason McIntyre could not attend a resident’s meeting was because he was rude to her, she alleges.

McIntyre’s press release states that any HUD tenant or ex-tenant who needs information about the lawsuit can contact the Gulf Coast Legal Foundation at 763-0381 or 1-800-551-3712.