Tenants Fighting Apartment Eviction

Looking around her living room, Cassandra Plummer says, "We don't have any damage in here and we thought we would be here until we wanted to be [out]."

But an eviction notice tells Plummer to be out of her Watersmark apartment by December 31. An attorney with the Center for Justice who represents Plummer and other tenants say they have no legal duty to leave.

"Some of these people have leases that run well into 2006. There are certain legal requirements terminating a lease prior to its expiration and the management needs to follow those appropriate legal procedures. You can't put people out just by writing them a letter and telling them to get out," says attorney John Jopling.

Jopling says his clients live in units with only minor damage.

"Unless the city has come out and declared the residence to be uninhabitable, the tenants have a right to the peaceful enjoyment of the lease home."

Plummer has her own opinion about why she and the others are being kicked out.

"My speculation is that they just want to renovate and raise the rent so that they can get the top dollar, because housing is in demand right now."

Plummer says she and her husband are building a house so they have somewhere to go. Her concern is for her neighbors, many of whom she says live here on Section 8 vouchers.

"There are mothers with kids that are absolutely on Section 8 that absolutely have nowhere to go. Can't even get a FEMA trailer because they're on Section 8. Can't find a house to move in cause there's no available homes."

About 20 of the apartments are empty. Jopling says the eviction letter may have driven many of the people away. He says if the management company tries to force the others out, his group will go to court to stop it.

Sandalwood Management Company of Austin, Texas runs the Watersmark Apartments. Vice President Thomas Crowson says many of the units have major roof and water damage. Because of the severe housing shortage right after the storm, Crowson says they reduced all rents to $25 a month.

Crowson says they have consulted with attorneys and say they believe they are following the law.