Tuesday, January 25, 2000

Owner told to pay double deposits


Lack of heat forced tenants out last year

BY LUCY MAY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A Mount Airy apartment complex owner has been ordered to pay seven former tenants double their security deposits plus attorney's fees, more than a year after failing to provide enough heat for them.

        Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Patrick Dinkelacker's ruling Monday will cost Michael J. Davis and his company, Castlerock Properties, an estimated $8,152.

        Former tenants said it's been a long wait for the money. Last year, city officials ordered them to vacate their homes because of the inade quate heat in bitter cold temperatures.

        Attorney Bruce Knabe argued that Mr. Davis and Castlerock Properties shouldn't have to pay double the security deposits because it took some tenants as long as six months to provide forwarding addresses.

        But Robert Newman, the tenants' attorney, argued he gave Mr. Davis forwarding addresses in September as part of the lawsuit and that Mr. Davis and Castlerock employees had forwarding addresses for his clients well before that.

        Mr. Knabe argued that it's difficult to return money in the middle of a lawsuit.

        Judge Dinkelacker said the money should have been returned once Mr. Davis and Castlerock got the addresses.

        Mr. Davis has the option of appealing the judge's ruling.

        Nearly 100 tenants of the Hawaiian Terrace complex were ordered to leave their apartments last January because of insufficient heat.

        Penny and Bruce Eden, who now live in Springdale with their 5-year-old son, were among those who sued.

        “They said in their own responses that the apartment was left in good condition,” Ms. Eden said.

        “With us having a young son like we did, we had to leave.”

        The tenants will try to recover damages from Mr. Davis and Castlerock at a trial next month.

        Judge Dinkelacker ruled Monday that they can't seek punitive damages.

       



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