Racially Targeted Property Maintenance Failure Results in Lawsuit

In Prince George’s County, Maryland, a Latino advocacy group known as CASA has filed a federal case against national real estate investment firms Arbor Realty Trust and Realty Management Services, claiming systemic and racially targeted neglect of the properties.

The suit claims that the firms specifically purchased complexes in areas with majority non-white racial demographics, then neglected to maintain the property while raising the rent. This practice effectively traps tenants in leases with dangerous and unsanitary living conditions.

At Bedford and Victoria Station (BVS) complexes, 84% of tenants are Latino, and 0% are white.

In a statement, CASA executive director Gustavo Torres described how this has been an ongoing issue for BVS tenants for over 10 years. “We do not want an out-of-state property owner who intentionally divests from our community because of our country of origin or the language we speak. We do not want this real estate investment trust, Arbor Management Acquisition Company, to think that they can enrich their investors on the backs of the women and children who live in the apartments they own. We demand dignity.”

In addition to broken appliances, mold, and unrepaired structural issues, plaintiffs report that insect infestations are rampant, and some facilities are filled with bed bugs. Yet management refuses to address the recurring issues. 

In this case, the plaintiffs and their representation intend to show how policies of maintenance neglect are enacted against properties with mostly tenants of color in lower-income areas, while properties in wealthier and whiter areas are properly and safely maintained, and how the named defendants profit from this practice. 

This case was originally reported by Edward Ericson, Jr., in Courthouse News Service on July 19, 2021.

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