October 23, 2019
ArchCity Defenders Files Class Action Lawsuit Against T.E.H. Realty Alleging a Breach of Contract over Unsafe and Uninhabitable Conditions at Northwinds Apartment Complex in Ferguson
ArchCity Defenders, a nonprofit legal advocacy organization, filed a lawsuit in St. Louis County Circuit Court on behalf of Ms. Tahata Brooks, Ms. Destani Matthews, and approximately 200 tenants forced to endure dangerous and uninhabitable conditions at Northwinds Apartments in Ferguson, Missouri. The suit names T.E.H. Realty and its respective shell companies which own, lease, and manage Northwinds, as defendants.
“In the St. Louis region, a lack of safe, affordable, and habitable housing forces vulnerable individuals and families to make difficult decisions. This type of housing scarcity does not excuse bad practices; in fact, it suggests a moral imperative for housing providers in St. Louis to change the landscape,” said Blake Strode, Executive Director, ArchCity Defenders.
ArchCity Defenders filed a motion for a temporary restraining order as well as a preliminary injunction asking the court to require T.E.H. to immediately repair the uninhabitable units of residents living in Northwinds and to prohibit T.E.H. from collecting rent until completing those repairs. The overarching goal of the suit is to permanently end the unlawful actions of T.E.H. and to ensure that current and future tenants living at Northwinds have access to safe, affordable, and habitable housing.
Ms. Brooks, a Northwinds tenant since April 2010, signed a lease with T.E.H. Realty in April 2019. She noticed a marked change in the management’s responsiveness to her maintenance requests in Fall 2018, only a few months after Northwinds acquired the over 400-unit complex. T.E.H. has not upheld its side of the lease agreement with Ms. Brooks and, as a result of this neglect, her apartment has become hazardous to her health. Despite repeated attempts to contact T.E.H. and request repairs, Ms. Brooks’ kitchen ceiling caved in; a faulty basement drain causes unsanitary standing water; extensive cracks line the bathroom and entryway ceilings; and cracks in the kitchen floor make it unstable. Without a functional kitchen, Ms. Brooks must store, prepare, and eat food in the living room. Despite T.E.H.’s failure to address these safety and habitability concerns, Ms. Brooks continued to pay her rent and she’s been unable to save up money to move.
“For over a year, we’ve represented multiple families who have been devastated by the crisis and chaos created by T.E.H. Realty,” said Lee Camp, Staff Attorney, ArchCity Defenders. “T.E.H. has failed our clients and the St. Louis community. Northwinds is a classic example of T.E.H’s exploitative practices of acquiring property, collecting as much rent as they can, and failing to provide safe and sanitary housing to families.”
Since 2006, T.E.H. Realty has purchased over 10 multi-family housing complexes in the St. Louis metropolitan region totaling approximately 3,000 units. News reports suggest T.E.H. Realty’s issues of mismanagement are not only limited to their multi-family housing complexes in St. Louis, but to cities like Kansas City and Indianapolis.
A link to the petition ArchCity Defenders filed with the court is here:
Brooks, Matthews v. T.E.H. Petition (1)
A link to the exhibits can be found here:
Marked Exhibits-T.E.H. Northwinds.