At least six tenants of a notorious South Cobb landlord had their evictions dismissed and have been awarded counterclaims of up to $15,000 by the Cobb Magistrate Court.
The withdrawal of eviction filings and award of damages follows an effort by local residents to organize and draw attention to the plight of tenants at Parkview Apartments, Kingsley Village and Hunters Grove off Riverside Parkway.
“It definitely takes a lot of weight off me, not worrying about being evicted right now,” said Barbara Moment, a 13-year resident of Kingsley Village apartments who had been facing what she described as a retaliatory eviction after she complained about the lack of working heat in her apartment.
Moment was one of five residents who received relief Friday by a Cobb magistrate judge. Several weeks ago, Moment’s daughter, who lives in a different a apartment in Kinglsey Village, was awarded $10,000.
The rulings, which granted counterclaims to tenants ranging from $1,000 to $15,000 awarded, marked a rare victory in Georgia for tenants.
“It is very rare for judges to award counterclaims” to tenants, said Susan Reif of the Georgia Legal Services Program. “What is different about the South Cobb case is the media kind of went in and documented the problems.”
The three apartment complexes are owned by Trinity Parkview, LLC, which represents a group of Canadian investors. The company and one of its partners are facing 84 charges brought by Cobb County over the condition of the buildings, and residents say those violations only cover the exterior. Inside the buildings, some say they live with rats, mold, leaks as well as broken heating and air conditioning.
Monica DeLancy, founder of the We Thrive in Riverside Renters Association, welcomed the judgments, as well as recent changes she hopes will bring relief to tenants. The management’s tone toward tenants has shifted, she said, and the landlords have promised to work with the county and residents.
“I believe that there’s going to be a plan of action in place,” DeLancy said. “The bigger issue is the cost of housing.”
DeLancy also led a group of residents to visit the capitol last week to meet lawmakers about proposed legislation that would make retaliatory evictions illegal.
Moment said if Georgia passes the bill, that would be a “major accomplishment.”
Although she no longer has to worry about immediate eviction, Moment doesn’t know how she’s going to collect her $15,000. Her daughter, who was awarded $10,000, still has not received any communication from the landlord or their attorney.
Carter Clayton, the attorney for the landlord, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A hearing in the case against the landlord was scheduled for earlier this month, but the defendants have invoked their right to a trial by jury, a process that could take up to a year.
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