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Residents at Detroit apartment building get eviction notices despite governor's order

Posted at 10:11 AM, Apr 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-18 10:11:44-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Tenants of an iconic apartment building on Jefferson Avenue in Detroit were surprised to receive eviction notices amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The governor’s executive order states landlords cannot evict their tenants during this pandemic. That order expires May 15.

That’s why about 80 tenants, many elderly, were shocked to get a letter from the landlord saying pay rent that’s owed or move out in 7 days.

“I got an eviction notice, not too long ago for failure to pay rent.”

Pepi Haynes lives at the Jeffersonian Houze apartment building in Detroit.

He was surprised to get a letter from the landlord earlier this month — ordering him to pay rent or move out in a week.

Pepi like many others have been hit financially due to pandemic.

“I’m on social security, so I try to make ends meet, try to take care of my son.”

When Attorney General Dana Nessel got wind of the notices, she sent a letter of her own, stopping the landlord from throwing out about 80 tenants, many who are seniors.

“It’s very upsetting to me,” she said. “For God’s sake we are in the middle of a global pandemic.”

Arie Leibovitz, the building’s owner says they have to follow protocol - even if they had no plans to evict.

“Had no intention other than to notify the people to have them pay their rent,” he said. “I don’t want a lender to come and tell me, ‘What? You didn’t even make an effort.’”

Nessel responded, “So, even if he was not going to be able to make good on that threat, it’s still a threat.”

The landlord questions the AG’s involvement.

“It was a cheap shot taken by the Attorney General’s Office to score some political points,” Leibovitz said.

The Attorney General said she’s just doing her job.

The governor’s executive orders states landlords cannot evict tenants during the stay at home order.

The tenants tell us the landlord should worry more about the conditions of the building rather than rent.

We were sent photos of trash overflowing a dumpster and other pictures.

“They have not been keeping up with the building," one renter told us.

The owner says they’re services are limited due to be being short of staff dealing with absolute necessities.

As for the tenants behind on rent, the Jeffersonian landlord says they will work with those tenants to avoid evictions after the orders are lifted.

Pepi added, “You expect your landlord to have your best interest at hand during a time like this where they know you have no control over your income.”

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