Woman faces eviction after health department takes landlords to court

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UPDATE (Sept. 27, 2019) -- A judge ruled in favor of the tenant, Alvenia Smith, saying her apartment complex cannot evict her before her lease is up because of health department violations. Smith told FOX59 she is looking for a new place to live after her lease ends in October.

Original story:

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- A woman on the west side of Indianapolis faces eviction two months after the health department filed a court case against her landlords.

Alvenia Smith says she tried to work with managers at Addison Creek apartments after they sent her a letter on August 12 giving her 30 days to move out of her apartment, even though her lease isn't up until the end of October.

"After careful review of the necessary repairs in your apartment home it was determined that we cannot complete the work required in your apartment while it is occupied due to the extent of the repairs," the letter said in part. "If you need an extension, we are happy to work with you if this request is received in writing."

Smith submitted a written request for more time on September 12, but instead of an extension she received a summons to court for eviction.

"As soon as I turned it in, they went to file that case on me the next day," Smith said. "I was not expecting that."

Health department records show that inspectors from the Marion County Health Department have been visiting Smith's apartment since before she moved in. The department has filed more than 50 cases into court against Addison Creek in the past two years.

Smith first showed FOX59 the issues last month. She said Friday they still have not been fixed and court records show a judge approved a continuance in the case until October 29.

In the meantime, Smith will have to go to court for her eviction case. She said she doesn't want to stay at the complex, but moving isn't easy.

"I don’t have nowhere else to go. The place that I did put an application in, get an interview for, pay for my ... reservation to hold, it won’t be ready until November," Smith said.

Smith isn't the only one facing eviction on the west side. Data compiled by Dr. Breanca Merritt and her team at Indiana University's Center for Research on Inclusion and Social Policy show that Wayne Township has the highest rate of eviction filing in Marion County. Indianapolis as a whole ranks 14th in the country among large cities for rates of eviction, Merritt said.

"There are a lot of other evictions that aren't being captured because we don't have formal records of them, so ... the numbers could easily be larger than what they're being reported as," Merritt said.

Merritt said many cases involve health department issues, too.

"Habitability is the easiest way for people to win some of these eviction cases," Merritt said.

Smith hopes she can win her case, or at least get more time, since her lease isn't actually up yet. She has to be in court next week.

Employees at the Addison Creek leasing office told FOX59 they could not comment. Calls to owner T.E.H. Realty's corporate phone number were not returned Friday.

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