If you know anything about rental properties in Charlotte, NC, you know it can be quite a mixed bag. There are some excellent apartment complexes and others unfit for any creature larger than a cockroach. Sandalwood, now known as "Heritage Park," falls somewhere closer to the bottom than the top, as any resident will tell you. However, improvements are underway...though slowly.
Residents are still meeting roughly every six weeks with Torian Priestly, an asset manager for The Benoit Group tasked with gathering the much-needed funds to fix the apartments. Issues like black mold, which can be fatal, and bug infestations are still common in the apartments, though some tenants have seen improvements. At a meeting eight weeks ago residents and Priestly agreed that, first on the list of improvements had to be the electrical system. The fear of fire from faulty electrical wiring is very real for many. In a meeting held Thursday, September 19th, Priestly agreed that finding the funds to fix the electrical system had taken longer than proposed, but assured residents that the assessment of apartments would begin within a week.
Many tenants showed up at the meeting to voice continued concerns, including vacant apartments full of garbage, leaking roofs and a lack of security that many blame for a recent shooting on the premises that left one person hospitalized.
Mr. Priestly expressed frustration, both at the never-ending list of problems accumulating in the complex and at the lack of available funds to keep up with repairs. The buildings are thirty years old and prior owners neglected necessary repairs for years. The Benoit Group took over the property in December of 2011.
Though no one, management, ownership nor resident is happy with the pace of repairs, all are hopeful that a $500,000 grant will be awarded in December, which will allow the property to beef up its current, one-man maintenance crew, comprised solely of Felix Rosario. All agree, Felix has been working madly to keep up with repairs and, in the meeting Thursday, Felix admitted to paying for some materials out of his own pocket rather than see residents go without necessary utilities.
This selflessness isn't common, though the many problems in the complex are. Many apartment complexes suffer from the same lack of necessary upkeep and timely repairs that, given long enough, make for dangerous conditions, both for those who live in them, and those who seek to make their living from them. Since February of 2012, Sandalwood/Heritage Park has seen three different property managers take their shot at righting this ship. But, however difficult that task may be, it is nearly impossible without the participation of residents and communication between renters, owners, police, management and maintenance.
This communication has proven a key element in the rejuvenation of complexes before, and it's no different in Heritage Park. Renters across the city must work together, make themselves heard, and take responsibility for the place in which they live. Action NC is proud to assist any tenants who see issues in their communities and wish to work together to help remedy those situations.