Garnell Hodge, a resident of Kingsley Village, and her daughters, Lonnie, 8, and Fantasia, 4, attended a tenants meeting with police, county officials and management to address housing conditions. Hodge said she is still waiting for management to take care of the mold in her apartment. (Meris Lutz/AJC)

Feds, Cobb police probe property managers for alleged rent theft

The former property managers of three troubled apartment complexes in South Cobb are under investigation by local and federal authorities for allegedly stealing rent money, police told residents this week.

Law enforcement, county officials and the buildings’ new management sought to assure tenants at a meeting Monday that their concerns were being taken seriously as they continue to complain about problems in the apartment buildings.

The three properties — Kingsley Village, Parkview Apartments and Hunters Grove — are located on Riverside Parkway and owned by a group of investors from Canada operating under Trinity Parkview LLC. The company and its principal, Kerrison Chin, face dozens of criminal charges for alleged code violations.

The case gained prominence earlier this year after a series of articles by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution revealed dangerous and unsanitary living conditions, including rodents, mold, water and sewage leaks and missing fire alarms. Tenants also told the AJC that they were being threatened with eviction over back-rent they said they had already paid.

Months later, following regular inspections by the county and several court rulings that sided with tenants, some issues have been fixed. But Cobb County Commission Chairman Mike Boyce told renters that the property is still “a mess.”

“We have a long way to go, but that doesn’t mean we’re letting up on the pressure,” he said. Boyce added that he believes the new property managers are working in good faith to address the huge backlog of complaints.

Cobb Police Major C.D. Owens said his department was working with federal investigators to probe “deceptive practices” by previous property managers.

“It appears they were just pocketing the money,” Owens said.

The suspects could face federal charges because some of the alleged victims were recipients of housing vouchers from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, he added.

Despite some improvements, such as the installation of gates at the entrances to the three properties, the small handful of residents who attended the meeting said they saw little change.

Garnell Hodge, who brought her two young daughters to the meeting, said she’s been living with mold in her Kingsley Village apartment for a year and a half. She suspects the mold is making her and her daughters sick.

“I do pay my rent faithfully and it seems like the problems are getting worse and worse,” she said.

Nandi Jackson, who also lives at Kingsley Village, was awarded $10,000 in damages by a Cobb County court in March after sewage leaks and other problems in her apartment went unaddressed for nearly a year. But she said this week she still hasn’t received the money, and her attempts to reach the property owners have been unsuccessful.

She’s looking to move when her lease is up this summer, but it will be difficult without the money she’s owed.

“I just want my money,” she said. “I earned that.”

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