OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Despite new eviction rules against evictions passed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, some metro landlords are still reportedly trying to push out tenants.
A family of five in Overland Park said they were abruptly told to leave their apartment after nearly 3 years and a freshly signed lease agreement.
“We always paid rent on time. We never had any notice. We’ve been good, good tenants the whole time,” Sydnie Steffens said. “We planned to stay there for quite some time.”
Steffens said this alert came after an incident involving her husband and a staff member at The Lodge at Overland Park Apartments. She said her husband was immediately approached after returning from a quick trip to the store.
“The guy said he was going to let his boss know we were in breach of our lease for speeding, even though my husband was not speeding,” Steffens said. “We just figured that it would be nothing. Literally two hours later we got an email saying we need to vacate in 30 days, which was like 5 days before Christmas.”
Local tenants rights groups say landlords are finding other reasons to kick people out of their homes since the eviction moratorium is in place.
“We’ve heard of tenants whose landlords were taking appliances out of their units, removing the stove, removing the fridge, turning off the utility in order to make the unit uninhabitable,” said Tara Raghuveer, director of KC Tenants.
“We have also heard of landlords posting notices on their door, simply threatening or harassing, kind of telling the tenant, ‘Time is up. You have three days to move,’ even if it has not been a legal process.”
These are all examples of what Raghuveer calls unlawful and informal evictions.
It’s one of the many things the group has been protesting for months.
“Sometimes they will resort to these illegal, unlawful, harassing and intimidating means in order to get someone out of their home,” Raghuveer said. “And many tenants don’t know their rights and, in a moment of panic, will pack up and leave the house or unit before figuring out if they actually have to.”
KC Tenants advises people to contact a lawyer or apply for protection under the CDC eviction moratorium if they’re in this situation.
The CDC Eviction moratorium form can be found here. It should be filled out and submitted to the landlord or local court.
“We didn’t know that it was anything we could do to fight anything. So we just want to make it aware for all the other families aware, we don’t want it to happen to them as well,” Steffens said.
“They didn’t specify any certain things; they just said that it was in breach of their lease, so we still don’t know the exact reason of why. We didn’t do anything wrong. There is nothing in our lease that talks about this.”
Steffens said with the help of family, they moved but are still required to pay their remaining rent at The Lodge at Overland Park.
FOX4 reached out to the Mandel Group, based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which manages The Lodge for comment. They issued the following statement:
“Mandel Group is deeply committed to maintaining a secure, comfortable and welcoming environment for residents and employees at The Lodge at Overland Park.
“While we are unable to discuss the specific incidents that led up to this unfortunate situation, our team did take appropriate steps, including multiple notifications to the parties involved, over the course of several months to resolve various concerns. Protecting the safety of our residents and staff is of paramount importance to us and will always be our priority.
“We have and will continue to support our residents, especially through the holiday season and during the pandemic.”