Older residents at Prairie Village apartments concerned after 45% rent increase, terminated leases

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PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. — Prairie Village is known as a pleasant place to live. However, some residents say they may not be able to live there much longer.

The Kenilworth apartment complex is seeing changes that may force some of their older residents out.

Management sent a letter out to residents back on August 18. It starts out talking to them in past tense, as though they may be leaving.

“We just want to say thank you for being the wonderful residents and neighbors you are. We, the team at Kenilworth, as well as your neighbors, have enjoyed you being an important part of our community,” the letter read.

For some people living in an apartment is temporary, but for others, it’s their community. That’s the case for 81-year-old Judy Budihas. Her daughter, Tracey O’Neill, says living here the past three years gave her mom joy.

“It is a true community,” O’Neill said.

However, that community feeling faded when the letter showed up on her door telling Judy her lease wouldn’t be renewed, and it was terminated.

“Please be advised that your lease agreement for the above-described premises is herby terminated and will not be renewed effective midnight, October 18, 2021.” her notice of nonrenewal and termination of tenancy read. “In the event the premises are not vacated by such date and time, the landlord will file eviction action in the District Court of Johnson County, Kansas to regain possession of the premises and damages.”

“All she saw was evict, and she called me crying and said I’m going to be evicted October 18,” O’Neill said.

The letter told residents their lease agreement was terminated. Avanti Residential took over the property in June. In another letter they clarified residents would be offered a new lease with a rent increase of 45%.

“She worries financially anyway. Now she’s got to worry financially where am I going to live, what am I going to do,” O’Neill said.

The letter said the complex will be renovated. If residents want to stay on with the rent increase their belongings can be stored in a pod, and during the 30 days it would take to rennovate they would need to figure out another living situation. They suggested living with a friend or family member. If that isn’t possible they said residents could rent an Airbnb or stay in an extended stay hotel.

“Nothing even prepared them for these letters it was like a hand grenade going off in this community,” O’Neill said.

O’Neill said the majority of residents are older and this is plainly ageism. The complex no longer allows residents to pay rent with paper checks, and online payments require a processing fee. O’Neill says the complex requires residents to pay rent on the first with no grace period.

“We still don’t have a place for her to live. She was given until November first now. We’re still looking because everything’s booked and expensive,” O’Neill said.

On Avanti’s website it says they take a people first approach with their business. O’Neill says if they put people first why not start here?

“Give people more options, because some of these people really have no other options. Maybe stay in an apartment that isn’t renovated and raise the rent seven percent and not forty three percent. My mom honestly felt like she was going to be 81 years old and homeless on the streets of Kansas City,” O’Neill said.

FOX4 reached out to Avanti several times on Friday. They were emailed four different ways and three upper managers received phone calls directly. No one responded to FOX4’s requests for a statement or interview.

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