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Tenants Protest Costs, Conditions

Complaints include maintenance, insect and rodent control.

Residents at Presidential Greens Apartments are protesting rising rents, fees for utilities and routine maintenance and deteriorating living conditions.

The 397-unit apartment complex is located in the heart of Alexandria’s Arlandria neighborhood and is the home of many of the city’s foreign-born population.

Over the past six months, according to residents, the residents have begun to be charged for utilities, which had previously been included in their rent and for routine maintenance.

“If they need a new refrigerator, they are charged something like $15 per month for a certain period of time,” said Jon Liss, the executive director of the Tenants’ and Workers’ Support Committee. Presidential Greens residents came to Liss for help when they got no response to complaints to the management.

Some residents complained of cockroaches and rodents and management's lack of response for requests for extermination service.

CITY CODE INSPECTORS have visited the property recently as part of the Residential Rental Permitting program. Ten percent of all rental units are inspected each year through this program. Forty units at Presidential Greens were inspected in August.

“We wrote 100 violations,” said Art Dahlberg, the director of code enforcement. “For the most part, they were relatively minor violations — broken windows, missing screens in windows, broken handrails in stairwells, burned out exterior lights, etc.

“Our inspector did notice some rodent burrows and had our rodent control people take a look at Presidential Greens’ rodent eradication contracts. There are contracts in place but we have put them on notice that they should take a closer look at this potential problem,” he said.

The contracts call for 14 apartments to be sprayed for roaches each week and for rodent eradication measures to be taken once each month. This means that there are bait boxes around the exterior of the apartment buildings.

“There may be contracts but scheduled exterminations just aren’t happening according to the tenants,” Liss said. “There are several burrow holes around the dumpsters and one tenant showed me new furniture that rats have chewed. The tenants are putting out traps but the rats are so large that they are carrying the traps off. If you see rats with mouse-trap earrings, you’ll know where they came from.”

THE CITY INSPECTS apartments when there are complaints. “We’ve only received two complaints this year from Presidential Greens and we wrote citations,” Dahlberg said. “In those cases, the violations were corrected promptly.”

Liss said that many residents are afraid to contact the city. “They are just very reluctant to contact any governmental agency,” he said. He has agreed to make a list of tenants who have concerns and who would like to have their apartments inspected and provide it to Dahlberg.

Presidential Greens is owned by United Dominion Real Estate Investment Trust. They bought the complex two years ago for approximately $30 million. The Gazette made several unsuccessful attempts to speak with the property manager. Property records show only a post office box in Arizona as the address for the owner.