Local apartment complexes suing tenants - KXXV Central Texas News Now

WACO

Local apartment complexes suing tenants

by Henry Rosoff

WACO - Two prominent Waco-area apartment complexes are regularly suing their tenants.

Saddle Brook and Saddle Brook West have filed justice court lawsuits against former tenants for both damages and unpaid fees. 

Attorney Jeffrey Sprigg represents the Dallas-owned complexes in most of these cases.  He said his client is simply collecting money it is owed.

"Rather than to follow other industry practices in terms of going through third party collection agencies that call at odd hours and harass everyone, they have chosen to have a third party, an arbiter in the form of a judge or in rare cases a jury, determine their rights with regard to the breach of the lease contract," Sprigg said.

However, local attorneys defending several people being sued, said Saddle Brook is going too far.

"Just in the light of my cases alone and I've got calls about others, it does appears this is kind of their 'MO,'" said Josh Tetens.  He's representing multiple clients fighting justice court suits filed against them by the Saddle Brook properties.

Tetens said one of his client's had a major water leak in their apartment, right before they planned to move out.  He said the carpet was ruined and never replaced by Saddle Brook.

However, Teten said his clients were told not to worry about the damage when they left the complex.

"They scheduled an actual walk through and no one showed up," Tetens said.  "So, they went to drop off their keys and they (the apartment management) said: 'don't worry, about it's fine.'"

That is until, Tetens said, his clients got a lawsuit for hundreds of dollars.

Sprigg said the walkthroughs are taken very seriously, and are meant to avert situations like the ones Tetens's clients are facing.

"When they don't do the walk through that hurts both parties because it creates a situation of he said she said," Sprigg said, adding that his client tries to settle every dispute before taking legal action.

But Dan Tilley does not believe this was the attitude taken towards his clients Sunmi and Sung Jang.  He said the Jangs were also stood-up at checkout, but sent a letter shortly after reading in part:  "Following your move-out... there is an outstanding balance of $1,452.92... Payment must be received in my office within five days from the date of this letter or it will be turned over to our corporate office."  The letter goes on to read that if the corporate office has to handle matters, the Jangs would owe $4,247.95.

"On multiple occasions they acted as if they were even surprised they (the Jangs) wanted to do a walk through," Tilly said.  "Then they (Saddle Brook West) turn around in court and say because you didn't do a walk through then your responsible for all damages."

Tilly recently helped his clients beat their lawsuit, and collect damages.  Sprigg said he would appeal, and he maintained that all Saddle Brook lawsuits were filed in good faith.

"I have taken cases and turned it back to the client and said no we will not file suit on this because you don't have a basis for filing suit," Sprigg said.

A property manager told News Channel 25 there is turnover in about 12-15 units each month at the Saddle Brook properties.  With approximately 150 contracts being signed and ended each year, a comparatively small fraction of those contracts make up the ones involved in the justice court lawsuits.

However, a News Channel 25 review of McLennan County Justice Court records shows the Saddle Brook properties are the only properties in the county regularly suing former tenants.

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