‘It’s sickening.’ Evicted tenants of downtown building now being sued by owner

The lawsuit claims the building’s tenants owe $10K each for unit damage. At least one of them believes it’s really about revenge.
Skip Williams poses for a portrait at Court View Apartments on West Court Streeet in Downtown,...
Skip Williams poses for a portrait at Court View Apartments on West Court Streeet in Downtown, Tuesday July 13, 2021. Williams has lived at Court View for 20 years and was forced to find a new apartment on short notice by his new landlord and developer.(Landon Bost/The Enquirer)
Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 7:09 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (Enquirer) - Tenants being evicted from the Court View apartments Downtown to make way for a new development are also being sued for $10,000 each by the building’s owner, according to our media partners at the Enquirer.

As part of the eviction process, the tenants’ new landlord is seeking compensation for damages to 11 of 19 units in the building at 7 W. Court St., as well as for “prematurely necessitated’' costs to refurbish the units, according to lawsuits filed July 25 in Hamilton County Municipal Court.

The lawsuits were filed by West Court View Building LLC, a division of Mount Auburn-based Vision & Beyond Capital Investments, which bought the building in April and plans to redevelop the property for residential and retail use.

Vision & Beyond gave residents 30 days to move in May, before extending the deadline to mid-July following tenant protests and media coverage of the situation.

Tenants who remained in their units after the final deadline received three-day eviction notices and are scheduled to appear in court this month.

Vision & Beyond officials declined to comment on the pending eviction lawsuits.

The tenants being evicted all had month-to-month leases, which offers them little protection in Ohio and forced most to scramble to find new homes on short notice with limited resources.

“We don’t have any money,’’ said 61-year-old Tim Reed, a member of the tenants’ association who has lived at Court View for 19 years and relies on Social Security disability to pay his $630 a month rent. “I spent everything I have to find a new apartment. I don’t have $10,000. What are they going to do, bleed a dead turnip?’’

Reed, one of the most vocal leaders of the tenants’ protests, said he thinks the compensation sought in the lawsuits is punitive and an attempt at revenge for Court View tenants tarnishing the company’s name in the press and on social media.

“They (Vision & Beyond) don’t know what the conditions were like when we moved in, so how can they sue for damages when they haven’t even been in most of the apartments,’’ Reed said.

“They’re just mad because we’ve been out there fighting for our homes, and we gave them a bad name. They know they’re not going to get any money. They just want us to go through hell. It’s sickening.’’

Reed said he raised about $1,000 selling antiques and other collectibles at a moving sale that he used to secure a new apartment Downtown at Fourth and Plum streets.

He said the monthly rent for his two-bedroom apartment at Court View will nearly double to $1,100 for his new one-bedroom apartment, plus $70 to keep his dog, Shiloh.

“Once I pay my utilities, that’s going to take almost all of my (disability) check,’’ Reed said. “I’m going to have to get a part-time job, but I can only work so much within the limitations of my disability. I’ve had five neck surgeries, and I also have lung issues.’’

Skip Williams, another longtime Court View tenant facing eviction, said he hopes to move into his new apartment well before his eviction hearing begins Aug. 19.

He said he found a one-bedroom apartment directly across from Court View on Court Street that will cost him about $400 a month more than his current rent.

“It just kind of fell in my lap,’’ Williams said of his new apartment. “I was talking to the building owner across the street, and he said, ‘I’ve heard about what’s happening to you.’ I asked him if he had any openings, and he said, ‘Check back with me in about a month.’ ‘’

Williams said his new apartment comes with the kind of modern conveniences and amenities that Court View never had, such as a washer and dryer inside the unit, central air, and a new stove and refrigerator.

Williams said Vision & Beyond’s attempt to collect thousands of dollars in damages for an aging building that has always had issues is simply “them playing dirty.’’

“It’s just a scare tactic,’’ he said. “They just want us out of there.’’

Although Williams said he’s “really loving’' his new apartment, which he hopes to move into by the end of next week, he said he would have stayed at Court View if he could have.

“None of us would have moved. There’s no reason to move. We loved it here,’’ he said.

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