Tenants accuse Fannie Mae of being a slumlord

October 28, 2011 7:47:37 PM PDT
Government-backed mortgage lender Fannie Mae is being accused of being a slumlord by a group of tenants at an apartment complex in Oakland.

The condition of the property is so bad that the city of Oakland stepped in last May and ordered the mortgage lender to clean it up. From the looks of it, nothing has been done.

Tenant attorney Philip Rapier showed ABC7 around the apartment complex -- the broken stairs, the railing that collapsed last April and has never been fixed, a bathroom where a water leak is causing the paint to bubble up is cracking the wall, the water heater in one of the units that can't be turned on.

Residents say when Fannie Mae took over the property 15 months ago they thought things would get better, especially after the city ordered the mortgage giant to clean the place up.

"But it seems that when the bank doesn't comply with city codes nothing happens," Rapier said.

Reginald Watkins tells ABC7 his sink has been leaking for a year.

"They sent no one, period," Hawkins said.

There is no question the place is a wreck, but in the midst of telling ABC7 that no one ever responds, a workman from the property management company actually showed up to check the smoke detectors, the carbon monoxide detectors and the water heater.

Ronnie Gibson has been living in the complex for 25 years. He says this is one of the few times someone from the property management company has actually shown up.

A spokesperson for Fannie Mae says the tenants have been uncooperative and are going to be evicted for not paying their rent. Their attorney tells ABC7 they have a legal right to withhold the rent because of the condition of the property. Rapier says he's also filing a lawsuit against Fannie Mae, asking that the lender's CEO be ordered to live at the Oakland property.

"With no hot water, leaky roof, water pouring in for at least three or four months in the condition as is; I think that would be highly appropriate," Rapier said.

Fannie Mae's spokesperson says the tenants are Section Eight tenants so a portion of their rent is subsidized by the federal government. She says they need to move out in order for the place to be repaired, but she couldn't say when the residents were told that or if they were only given their eviction notices after they refused to pay their portion of the rent.

The property management company for Fannie Mae has an office in Hayward, but they did not return ABC7's calls.

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