Loop Lofts owners say safety was their priority when giving tenants a 72-hour notice to leave
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Two weeks ago, water surrounded a West End apartment, flooding both buildings. Now, dozens of Loop Lofts residents said they’re being forced out on short notice. News 4 talked exclusively with the loft’s owner to learn more.
On Tuesday, July 26, there was five-to-seven inches of water inside Mark Williams’ apartment. Two days later, his unit and dozens more flooded again.
“We were doing the cleaning ourself. There was an outside crew that showed up to bring in fans and dehumidifiers and they were in charge of the hallways, but inside the units, it was neighborly cleaning left and right,” Williams said.
For weeks, tenants dealt with the aftermath. Last week, they received a notice on their units that said they had to be out in 72 hours. Others in another building said they had until the end of August to leave.
“I panicked. I had three days to decide pretty much the rest of my life for a year,” Keisha White said.
White’s lived at Loop Lofts for three years. She said this whole situation was a shock to her. However, leaving, especially on short notice, wasn’t as easy as residents thought.
“At the time that you come to get your security deposit back, they hand you a form that consists of three sheets, where they want you to sign it and you won’t discuss this with anybody, and that it was a mutual agreement that you would leave, not that they have you a 72-hour notice,” Janayah Dunlap said.
Dunlap’s lived at the apartment complex for five years.
“It’s unfair, it’s unjust, and it’s putting us in a situation where we can potentially be homeless,” White explained.
After several attempts to talk to loft owners and managers, they agreed to sit down exclusively with News 4.
“It was a terrible situation. We can’t control it and our concern was we don’t believe this is a safe place,” Alex Oliver said.
Oliver’s the owner of Loop Lofts. He said a restoration team was inside the building after water receded from the first flood on July 26, then again after the second flood two days later.
“In building ‘B’, basically he determined water had gotten behind cabinetry, it had gotten behind the vanities, it had gotten into the walls, it was soaking up into the drywall, the tile floors in the bathroom, they suffered extensive damage,” Oliver explained.
“To remediate that damage, residents couldn’t stay in there. The other option is people stay and we don’t restore it and there’s gonna be more damage,” he added.
Oliver said Loop Lofts and 2B Residential deemed the building uninhabitable and potentially hazardous which lead them to lease terminations.
“The intent was we learned that we believe this place is unsafe for you to stay. We can’t in good conscious force you to stay here, and that’s what a lease would do,” Oliver said.
The other concern for residents was signing a non-disclosure agreement in exchange for their security deposit. News 4 asked Oliver if he thought that was necessary.
“Honestly, no, but again, my understanding was we were returning deposits without the entire document being signed,” Oliver said.
Since last week, many residents have moved out.
“People were invested in keeping their homes and they turned around and smacked us in the face,” Dunlap said.
For some, it’s fight or flight to find their next home on a moment’s notice.
“There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of people who are looking for apartments, so there isn’t capacity for us,” White explained.
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