PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Former tenants of the partially-collapsed Lindley Towers apartment building will be moving out of the shelter where they were being housed, thanks to an emergency agreement decided in court Thursday during a hearing over a pair of lawsuits connected to the collapse.
Lindley Tower Apartments at 1220 Lindley Avenue was deemed uninhabitable after the crumbling of part of the facade of the seven-story tower on Sept. 14. Lindley Tower Realty of Rydal, Pennsylvania is listed as a defendant in the lawsuits.
The landlord and tenants agreed that the owner will put the displaced residents up at a designated hotel for 28 days.
Osarugue Osa-edoh with Community Legal Services said after that, tenants can opt to break their lease and be refunded first and last months rent and their security deposits, or sign a new lease with the same landlord at a different building.
Tenants looking to re-rent from the defendant will be subject to a free background check. They will only be denied landlord-provided housing if the background check shows a conviction for rape, child abuse or molestation.
But she said the landlord is still subject to additional lawsuits from the tenants.
“This was just … to get people housed, to get people in a safer location in the immediate future,” said Osa-edoh. “They do have a suit against the landlord. It will be ongoing. They haven’t waived any of those rights.
Another lawsuit from the City of Philadelphia addresses safety and Department of Licenses and Inspections violations. Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas Judge Anne Marie Coyle is addressing these two lawsuits separately.
Rosa Abraham doesn’t think the deal owners and tenants made goes far enough.
“it's still not the going rate of rent right now,” said Abraham. “How are you supposed to afford that?”
Tenant Ruth Jarrett said from the date it happened until this court date, her life was turned upside down.
“I’m 70 years old,” said Jarrett. “I’m not a homeless person. I'm being treated like a homeless person.”
But Joshua Allen said he’s happy he has a new place to stay. He said he just wants to find a new home and move in.
“I don’t want extra stuff. I just want what is mine,” said Allen. “If you owe me money, I’m not living in your property … just take care of me so I can take care of myself, and we can move forward.”
Tenant Khadijah Adams said she thought this was a reasonable solution.
“Basically I'm okay with it, now that I get my money back,” she said.
When asked if he wanted to apologize for what tenants of the building went through, Philip Pulley, named as a defendant in the lawsuits, had nothing to say to the tenants.
Logan apartment tower was dangerous for tenants before partial collapse, city officials say
City officials testified Thursday at the hearing about issues they saw at the apartment complex that partially collapsed.
Attorneys argued that the building was not safe for tenants leading up to its partial collapse, leaving them without a proper place to live.
L&I Inspector Robert Brooks testified that when he visited the building after the incident, he deemed it to be imminently dangerous by threat of collapse. He said that when tenants were evacuated, he considered the event not to be over, just contained.
Philadelphia Fire Department Lt. Chris Abate also testified that he had visited the building numerous times.
He said according to his records, firefighters responded to the building 25 times in the past year, where he observed a number of issues that led him to personally make at least three complaints to L&I.
Abate added there is no building he’s more afraid of catching fire than 1220 Lindley.
The city also pointed out about 200 building violations, but an attorney for the owners said they are systematically working to fix them.
He also said they are working on providing a report on the building from a structural engineer. The city said that report should have been provided years ago.