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Family faces homelessness during COVID-19 pandemic after complex decides not to renew lease

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Posted at 6:21 PM, Apr 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 12:06:19-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — There couldn't be a worse time for tenants to receive a "notice to vacate" on their apartment doors.

After paying rent for four years at the same Colorado Springs complex, one family says property management decided they weren't going to offer them a lease renewal. With nowhere to go and facing homelessness in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic, they reached out to News 5 Investigates for help.

"Out of the 4 years I have been here, I've never had an argument with a neighbor," tenant Christine Farmer said. "I've always been polite, friendly, say 'Hi' and hold the door open for people."

Christine Farmer

Farmer says she never expected to receive a notice on her door at the Park Ridge Apartments, stating that she needed to be out no later than May 1st as her lease expires at the end of the month.

"They send me this notice saying I have to be out because they don't want to renew my lease," Farmer said. "I asked why and she (property manager) couldn't tell me."

Farmer says she has paid her rent on time. She also says the timing of this is just horrible for her and her adult son with disabilities.

"I haven't been working in 3 weeks," Farmer said. " I've been at my job for 5 years and I have a solid job when I do go back and get back on my feet but until then, I want to stay safe and protect my life, my son. That's all I ask."

Finding an affordable apartment in this market is one challenge, while finding one that's available right now in the middle of a global pandemic creates a whole set of new problems.

"My plan is to call the police station and ask if can I park in their parking lot and camp there for a few days until I figure something out," she said. "I'm calling my therapist, 2-1-1--- trying to get help with as many people as I can. It's not easy."

Farmer then decided to reach out to News 5 Investigates.

"I've always watched you guys and I see your News 5 investigations," Farmer said. "I decided to give it a shot because what did I have to lose?"

After connecting with Farmer via a Zoom video conference session, I reached out Park Ridge Apartments for answers on whether Farmer and her son could stay another month while everyone waits for the COVID-19 situation to improve.

After we contacted the complex, they called Farmer back and reversed their decision.

Farmer and her son will now be allowed to stay through the end of May.

"I never really did expect you to call me but I can't tell you how happy I am," Farmer said. "It's made my day. Thank you."

DISCLAIMER: News 5 Investigates should point out that apartment complexes are under no obligation to offer someone a lease renewal once their current one expires. We thank Park Ridge Apartments for allowing Farmer and her son to stay another month. Farmer says she's started the process of looking for a new apartment and News 5 Investigates has advised her that we'd be happy to help with her search, should she need additional assistance. We're here for you during these tough times. If you have a problem or issue you'd like to put on our radar, please send an email to News5Investigates@koaa.com. Due to the high volume of messages we receive, it may take us a while to respond.

TENANT TIPS

Tips for renters:
If your lease is approaching its expiration and you haven't received a lease renewal yet, send an email or call your landlord.

If you're experiencing problems with paying your rent, speak with your landlord as early as possible.

Remember, landlords still have bills and employees to pay, so it's important you do your best to make payments on-time. Provide proof of job loss and offer to pay what you can if you're financial situation has changed.

Whatever you do, you should never ignore delinquent account notices which could eventually lead to an eviction and damaged credit score.