Landlord backs away from warnings about evictions

February 18, 2005|By Childs Walker | Childs Walker,SUN STAFF

An Annapolis-based company confirmed this week that it plans to convert the Spa Cove Apartments to condominiums, but it has backed away from notices it sent to some tenants telling them to clear out in 30 days so that renovations could begin.

A spokesman for Triton Property group, which bought Spa Cove in December, said yesterday that the company never intended to scare off 48 residents when it sent them letters last month telling them to relocate and threatening to remove washing machines and trash bins. The notices were first reported by The Sun on Friday.

The Triton spokesman, Brian McCormick, said yesterday that the company is offering tenants of the Annapolis apartments the option of moving to a different apartment in the 303-unit complex or remaining in the same unit but enduring the dust and noise that will be produced by the planned renovation.

A landlord can only ask, not order, residents holding long-term leases to move, legal experts have said.

Some residents said yesterday that they were pleased by Triton's changed message, but they said it doesn't excuse the tone of the earlier letters, which they said drove some families away.

"They've apparently backed off, and that's commendable," said Teresa Chapman, one of the residents who was asked to move. "But the bottom line is that a lot of people have already moved, had their lives disrupted, and a lot of people have had to go through something they shouldn't have had to go through."

McCormick said his company plans to convert the apartments to condominiums and will, as state law requires, offer tenants the first option to purchase their units. Tenants who have agreed to move because of renovations will be given the option to buy their original units or the units they have moved to, McCormick said.

According to state law, tenants must be given six months notice before their apartments are converted to condominiums.

McCormick said Triton sent a letter to tenants this week clarifying the situation.

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