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Tenants, landlords tell conflicting stories about 'Tides' apartments

ABC15 takes an in-depth look at complaints about maintenance
Posted at 9:23 PM, Sep 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-01 15:41:17-04

Since 2017, Los Angeles-based investment group Tides Equities has purchased 23 apartment complexes in the Phoenix metro area.

According to reports posted on its website, the company has spent millions of dollars renovating complexes with the goal of boosting rent prices.

Between July and September 2019, ABC15 received nearly two dozens complaints about at least four of the properties. Most included concerns about broken air-conditioning units and flooding.

ABC15 spoke to current and former tenants of the Tides to look into their concerns and get responses from The Robinson Group which manages the properties.

Company owner Jarrod Robinson responded with details about each of the situations.

Tides Downtown Tempe

By the time ABC15 received the first complaints about Tides at Downtown Tempe on July 23, tenants say that they had been without air conditioning for "several weeks."

July 23 is also the day a temporary cooling unit was being installed, according to property management emails provided to ABC15. It thanked residents for their "patience and understanding" during repairs and said a vendor would be "installing a temporary chiller to mitigate our current chiller and this will provide adequate air and you will feel the cool air this evening."

The City of Tempe received its first complaint July 30. Inspectors verified the complaint on July 31.

Jarrod Robinson, a property manager of the Scottsdale-based The Robinson Group, says the complex was purchased in January 2019 and "the former owner didn't do the best job servicing the chiller." He says a repair company was called the day that the issue was reported. He provided no timeline but says, "a temporary chiller was brought in to ensure that the tenants had cool air." Robinson acknowledged "an issue with induvial (sic) units in regards to their blower motors and/or clogged coils," and says that those residents were offered a hotel stay.

City inspectors say they confirmed that repairs were completed on September 23.

Tides on Rail

On August 1, ABC15 began receiving complaints that the air-conditioning unites at Tides on Rail in Phoenix hadn't been working for several days.

Three days later, residents told us their apartments were still above 90 degrees even after receiving portable air conditioners from management.

According to public records, City of Phoenix inspectors responded to two complaints filed on July 31 and August 1.

Documents show on August 1, an inspection found the air conditioning was out for 50 units and indoor temperatures were several degrees above the 82-degree threshold set by city ordinance. By August 5, inspections show indoor temperatures dropped to acceptable levels.

Property manager Jarrod Robinson says Tides on Rail was acquired in May 2019 and is a "work in progress as we continue to clean up the property from the many years of differed maintenance and the lack thereof."

He says after calling a company "to check it out," they were told repairs could take a while. At that point, they "immediately" called a vendor to "deliver 50+ portable a/c units to the property."

From there he says they ordered a temporary chiller to be shipped from another state. Once delivered, he says it stopped working after "someone stole the copper parts." He says they "place (sic) many residents in hotels" and replaced the damaged temporary chiller. Even hiring "a security company to guard it 24-7 until it was removed."

Tides on Lemon

On July 3, when a cooling unit broke at Tides on Lemon in Tempe, Camille Hopkins Bailey says the complex offered tenants a stay at a nearby Motel 6. She says she ended up paying for a different place since she needed a refrigerator for medicines. But she says when she moved back on July 10 "our a/c chiller unit was still broken."

After putting in maintenance requests, she says the complex sent two HVAC technicians on three different occasions and says she was told they "could not flush the system due to a rusted off valve."

On August 8, she wrote ABC15 saying "we are on day 36 without air yet every time I open a work order it is promptly closed or I am dismissed in the leasing office."

Bailey, a disabled veteran wrote, "we are surviving on two portable air conditioners, two oscillating fans, and our ceiling fans" and "the apartment reaches above 90 degrees most days."

She says the air in her unit was not fully functioning up until the day she broke her lease in late August. She cited the effects of heat on her health.

Robinson says they sent technicians to her unit on July 10 and provided "two portable units", but did not receive another work order until August.

Tides at East Arcadia

On August 15, we sat with Alvin Young as he went through his notes that detailed all that he says happened since he was first scheduled to move into Tides of East Arcadia in Phoenix.

He says he paid extra to move in a day early but when he arrived with his family and belongings, he says he was told the unit was damaged from flooding the night before.

Young says he only found out after paying more than $1,100 in move-in costs.

"I said, 'well what about my things?' She said, 'put all your things in one room,' and then she stated to me, 'well, you can't stay there because the a/c doesn't work.'"

With nowhere to go, Young says he signed a paper acknowledging that the unit needed work, put his things in the apartment and paid to stay in a hotel for four nights while the unit was repaired.

Robinson says Young was "well aware of the issue that had taken place" but "pleated (sic) with the staff to let him continue to move in as he had to be out of his current place."

When Young returned July 22, he said the air-conditioning unit wasn't repaired and had large holes throughout the ceiling.

"It was the whole length of the top closet where you can see the duct on the insulation," he says.

And the next night he says it flooded again.

"Whatever water they turned on, whatever they were doing, it just started gushing out," he says.

This time, Young and his family were temporarily placed in a different unit. He says for the first several days, industrial fans ran using electricity that he paid for in advance. The move would last for nearly two weeks.

"We were going back and forth carrying clothes, carrying dishes." And he says there was a water problem in that unit, too.

"That a/c was leaking," he said. "We had our own towels. We had to make a barrier for the water and the floor was soft."

Young says he reported the leak to a manager. Robinson Group disputes that and says, "the staff did everything to accommodate him including personally helping him move into another unit while his unit was worked on."

According to Young's notes, he moved back into the original unit on August 2 and says the air-conditioning unit still didn't cool and the holes still had not been patched.

The company sent us an estimate from an HVAC vendor dated August 9 to show that they replaced the unit in the original apartment. They also sent us an invoice dated August 14 for painting and drywall repairs.

Robinson wrote, "once all repairs were completed, we then found there was no way of making the resident happy." He says they agreed to let Young out of his lease and return a portion of his rent. No word on reimbursement for the electricity that was used to dry the apartment.

Landy Joseph says her apartment at Tides East Arcadia flooded on August 12.

"My furniture got ruined. Water went through my TV, my couch, my clothes. Everything got water," she said.

When Joseph walked us around her apartment on August 15, she was upset, showing us water bubbles in the ceiling and paint peeled from walls exposing discoloration that she feared was the beginnings of mold.

"They basically told me, 'okay they will send somebody in for the carpet and the maintenance guy will call somebody after carpet and the wall is dry to fix it.'" But she says management would only approve the padding underneath the carpet to be removed.

"But it's not the mat that was wet only. The carpet was wet too." Joseph says she insisted they either clean the carpet or replace it.

"I know it's (the water) coming from the bathroom but I don't know what was in the water," she said. "They said, 'oh I'm failure to cooperate, they'll give me a notice.'"

The day we spoke to Joseph she was served a 10-day notice for breach of the rental agreement.

"They basically want to cut corners and it's their way or no way," Joseph said.

The Robinson Group did not give a timeline, but says they had a maintenance worker and a plumber "go to the unit." They were followed by a contractor "to do any water extraction along with leaving two blowers inside the unit to dry out the floor and ceiling with faster results."

Two days later Robinson says, "we returned to remove blowers we then found out resident had turned them off and wouldn't allow them to be running properly." After another 48 hours, "we then returned again and found the unit was dry and prepared for floor padding replacement."

It was then Robinson says, "the contractor was refused service by the tenant as she stated she wanted the entire flooring in her unit replaced not just the living room and closet in the bedroom."

A 10-day eviction notice followed and Robinson says Joseph called to "reschedule the contractor." But in the end, he says they agreed to clean the carpet as Joseph requested.

Tides at Old Town

Even before the current owners bought Tides at Old Town, Heather Case says she had issues with flooding in her apartment. But she says in August 2017, a leak in her master bedroom went unrepaired for several days.

"For at least probably six days, five days, it was continually leaking and I had to continuously change this bucket I had underneath it," she says.

She says when maintenance came to fix it they cut a large hole.

"I noticed all the mold that had accumulated above my master bedroom closet."

Case says when she brought it to management's attention, "he said, 'well I can give you the name of my guy.' And I said, 'so you will not help me pay for that?' And he said, 'no.'"

She says by the time the hole was patched nearly two weeks later, she had already noticed a change in her health.

"I went to a pulmonologist because I knew it was from my lungs."

Case says she was found to have three forms of mold in her lungs.

"I'm almost 100 percent certain that it is from living and residing in that location and nothing being done about the obvious mold that was there," she says.

In January 2019, Case filed a lawsuit against The Robinson Group and Tides' owners for negligence.

Robinson says, "She never called, never emailed, or ever sent a certified letter during the time she lived at complex," and "Unfiounrtlty (sic) this whole thing is 100% false but that will all come out."

How to help yourself

Under Arizona law renters have a right to demand essential services like air conditioning, heat, and hot water -- and landlords have an obligation to provide them.

If not, there are specific remedies the law allows, but only if tenants continue paying rent and give notice to the landlord before taking action.

Tenant advocates recommend doing that in writing so there is no dispute on a timeline.

Once notice is given, you can:

  • Get your own essential services like portable air conditioners in the summer or space heaters in the winter. And state law allows you to deduct the "actual reasonable cost from the rent."
  • Find substitute housing like a hotel or extended stay. Renters are entitled up to 125 percent of the rent if the substitute housing bill exceeds the monthly rental rate.

If the problem persists and you have given proper notice, the law gives you the right to terminate your tenancy and sue the landlord for damages.

Find out more on how to do that here.