‘Sufficient is sufficient’ | Greensboro is suing landlords for ongoing code violations and unpaid fines
The Agapion family released a statement accompanying the lawsuit stating that the fire at the Summit Avenue apartment “was caused by the negligence of adults in that apartment.”
GREENSBORO, NC – The City of Greensboro keeps its promise to hold landlords accountable.
On Thursday, lawyers filed a lawsuit on behalf of the city against top landlords, including the Agapion family, for unpaid fines for violating the housing law.
According to the lawsuit, the landlord refused to “sharply pay” hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for “widespread violations of the Greensboro Code of Ordinances” over several years.
Housing experts say it’s a lawsuit designed to send a message.
“This is the first and important step in saying that enough is enough,” said Brett Byerly, executive director of the Greensboro Housing Coalition.
Earlier this year, WFMY News 2 reported that the city is missing out on millions because landlords across the area failed to pay their fines.
At the top of that list was the Agapion family.
The Agapions, who operate Arco Realty, own and rent dozens of properties across Greensboro, but have amassed over half a million dollars in unpaid fines – more than $ 682,000.
“If the city is able to win this case in court, it will send a tremendous message across the city and I think we’ll see more people sticking to the law and doing the right thing,” said Byerly.
He says if the landlords who owe the most are forced to pay, others will clean up.
“When that political will is shown and this lawsuit is brought, the places that are not mentioned in this lawsuit – that may be on the verge of it – should be noted and do the little things they have to do to get them these properties are habitable, “said Byerly.
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WFMY News 2 reached out to the lawyer representing the Agapions. He sent us this statement:
Although Arco Realty and the Agapion family (“Arco”) have had no chance of digesting the city’s lawsuit, they look forward to defending themselves in court. They have been unjustly attacked in the news media for months. These politically motivated attacks contained many misleading and inaccurate statements. Now the dispute is shifting to court, an arena where the facts and the law matter.
The tragic fire that struck Summit Avenue Apartments in 2018 was caused by the negligence of adults in that apartment. The tragedy did not result from alleged violations of the Code. City officials and some members of the news media continue to link alleged violations of the law to the fire. You know better. This false narration serves no other purpose than to harm Arco and the Agapion family.
Before Arco sold the Summit Avenue apartments, Arco invested more than $ 460,000 in repairs and improvements. The city didn’t spend a single dollar repairing or upgrading the property. Before the sale, every single unit of the apartment complex passed a city inspection. Each unit received an occupancy certificate from the city. However, media sources falsely reported that the city paid for these repairs.
For a long time, city policy has provided for the landowners’ investments to be used against fines or penalties. Arco and the Agapion family have the right to offset many, if not all, of the alleged fines and penalties by investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in improving their homes.
The news media often portray Arco Realty and the Agapion family negatively. For generations, the Agapion family has provided affordable housing for people who need it most and for people who have few other options. For example, Arco provides affordable housing to immigrant families, homeless veterans and other people who have nowhere else to go. Historically, the Agapion family provided housing to people of color when it was unpopular. The NAACP has officially recognized the founder of Arco, Bill Agapion, for his commitment to fair living.
For the past several years, the Agapion family has worked closely with the Servant Center to provide homeless veterans with affordable housing. In 2019 alone, the Agapion family placed eight homeless veterans through the Servant Center.
The Agapion family values life in a country that respects individual rights and the rule of law. They are blessed to live in a country where we have laws and procedures that will protect citizens if the city they call home chooses to attack them for no good reason.
The Agapion family is not responsible for the fines and penalties and will vigorously defend themselves in court.
We will keep you updated on this evolving story.
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