Metro woman warns of repeated flooding in River Market apartments

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Our record-setting rainy spring has led to lots of flooding. But one metro woman says she never expected it to rain inside her River Market loft.

Christie Merandino just moved from Fort Lauderdale and thought this apartment with high ceilings, brick walls and killer views was a dream come true.

"I saved up and really wanted to do Kansas City the right way," Merandino said.

But she didn't realize the unit came with a built-in water feature.

"It comes in sheets. It's like having a private waterfall in your bedroom you don't want," Merandino said.

The first time it happened back in February, management from the Richards & Conover lofts put her up in a hotel.

"I lost a bunch of things, and they compensated me for it and said they'd take a look at the roof," she said.

She thought the problem got fixed. But during a very wet spring, every rain brought more flooding in her unit. In total, $7,000 of belongings have been destroyed.

"Everything was just wet and ruined. It was absolutely awful," Merandino said.

Every morning since, she's had a new way of making her bed.

"My normal routine is to cover my bed and cover my TV with plastic," she said.

The building's owned by Fairway Management in Columbia, which operates dozens of properties around the country.

The company's faced past lawsuits for alleged neglect in building maintenance at some of its other properties, including bed bugs, black mold, flooding and even failure to replace a smoke alarm in an apartment where a disabled woman died in a fire.

"You're just scared and you're sad," Merandino said.

Merandino's so fed up she's now moving out. She's still fighting to get her damaged items, not covered by renter's insurance, replaced.

She also wants to warn others because the building's already listed her unit for rent and has told her there are no plans to make roof repairs because it's too expensive.

"They know something's wrong which is why I'm moving. Then they're listing it again to do to some poor individual. There's no accountability and they just really don't care," she said.

The local property manager gave FOX4 contact information for Fairway Management, which provided this response:

"Richards and Conover Lofts is a beautiful building and part of its charm is the fact that it is an historic rehab.  Originally built in 1875 and rehabbed in 2000, it is rich with character, and unfortunately when there is an issue with a building this age, those issues can sometimes prove complicated.

There were two valid incidents of water leaks, one a roof leak and the other a brick leak.  Both unrelated, one occurred on December 1, 2018, and the other occurred on May 18, 2019. Unfortunately, both incidents affected the same apartment.

On December 1, 2018, a roof patch failed on the roof allowing it to leak.  This caused minor damage to the interior of one apartment and also to that one resident’s property.  The roof was repaired as well as some interior repairs, and the resident was reimbursed for a minor damages in the amount of $585.00, as a good faith gesture, because pursuant to the Lease, the landlord holds no responsibility for any resident’s property.

On May 18, 2019, we learned that the brick at the top of the building had gotten to the point that it required tuck pointing.  On that day a heavy rain with a hard wind blew rain in the right direction causing water to be able to intrude into the building.  Again, unfortunately this affected the same apartment. The brick work was completed and sealed, and there have been no leaks since that work was completed despite similar heavy rains in the past few weeks.

By the May incident though, the resident in this apartment did not want to remain in that apartment during repairs, so the landlord put the resident up in the boutique Hotel Indigo  from May 18 through June 3, 2019 to provide alternative accommodations for the resident while she waited to transfer to a different apartment of her choice.

Despite these efforts, the resident began demanding reimbursement and concessions that were both unrealistic and unsubstantiated, such as rent at a lower rate for a more expensive apartment, and replacement for property that wasn’t destroyed, but only required cleaning or that had already been cleaned.  It soon became clear that our good faith gestures rather than creating a sense of good will with the resident had the opposite effect of creating a sense that she could exploit the situation.  Accordingly, the resident has since refused all reasonable offers to right the situation, and because the landlord has received no rent this month, she has also evidently decided that she should live rent free in the completely repaired apartment."

The resident refutes these claims, saying her apartment flooded again just last week.  She's now considering taking the matter to court."

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