A flier warning a local apartment complex’s tenants of government inspections was incorrect and “predatory” and could drive a wedge between the city and the Hispanic community, a city spokesperson said.
The manager of the Park Town North complex said the inspections claim was a “misprint.”
Management at the complex on North Cliff Valley Way issued the fliers Sept. 18 to residents. The fliers stated in English and Spanish that the city would be conducting unit-by-unit inspections to check for occupancy limits.
“Attention all residents: On Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, the city of Brookhaven will be conducting unit-by-unit inspections,” the flier states. “The city of Brookhaven implemented an occupancy limit based on the square footage of bedrooms … The inspector will be counting mattresses as proof of number of occupants as well.”
The flier said that city code limits occupancy to a maximum of two people per bedroom. The flier also states the maximum number for a two-bedroom unit is four people and the maximum number for a three-bedroom unit is six people.
Those numbers in the flier are wrong, said city spokesperson Burke Brennan. City code states no more than three non-related people can occupy a household.
“There is no household limit on related persons,” he said. “We ardently request that anyone who receives information to the contrary to contact us and let us know.”
Brennan said the city does not go door-to-door to conduct interior inspections of apartments. The insinuation the city did so only erodes the trust the local municipality is trying to build with its large Hispanic population, he added.
Brennan said he has asked the city police department to investigate.
“I don’t know if it is against the law or not. I sent [the flier] to the Brookhaven Police Department to make a determination on that,” he said. “But it’s predatory and it’s wrong. We are trying to build bridges into our rather large Hispanic population and this is destructive toward that purpose.”
Lula Allen, manager of the complex, said the flier was in “reference to city code” and the claim the city would be conducting the inspections was a “misprint” by her staff.
“The letter was in reference to Brookhaven code,” Allen said. “The inspector was certified by the city of Brookhaven that we hired to ensure code compliance.
“I was unaware of the flier going out. My staff put out the flier. It was a misprint,” she said.
Brennan questioned Allen’s statement.
“If it was an isolated incident, I’d give it the benefit of the doubt. But this is the second one of these I have seen,” he said.
“The other one was another complex entirely. Different complex. Different management. Same ‘misprint,’” he said. “A very specific misprint which leverages cultural mistrust of government to ensure compliance for apartment inspections.”
Allen said the complex conducts an annual inspection of the apartment units and during this inspection one-third of the units, or 162 apartments, were inspected. She said two apartments were found to not meet code. She said no residents were evicted.
Some maintenance issues were also discovered during the inspection and Allen said management is working to repair any issues.
The flier included a statement that the locks were changed so management could have access to the units. Allen said the locks were changed “some time ago” after many residents installed their own locks on doors and also on bedroom doors.
“We went back over the years and put our own locks … because that’s how it’s supposed to be,” she said.