‘Fix this place’: Legacy at Imperial Village residents push for improvements

Residents of a senior living apartment community in Richmond are turning to 12 on Your Side for help.
Published: Aug. 29, 2023 at 6:56 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 29, 2023 at 8:53 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Residents of a Richmond apartment community say they are frustrated and want to see improved maintenance.

“Air conditioning goes out. We have an antiquated boiler system right now. We had a week in July where we had for six days straight sporadic or no air conditioning. And it was hot, and it was real hot. The heat index was probably 100 or more,” said Janet Smith, the tenant association president of Legacy at Imperial Village. “You know---just ceilings are falling in bathrooms because of leaks.”

Smith says at Legacy at Imperial Village, there have also been issues with bed bugs and nonworking elevators in recent months.

“Before December of last year, we didn’t have a tenants association. We had a resident council, and I had no power under the law. So I went and did some research and found out tenants associations have power to negotiate,” she said. “[Management will say] we’re working on it. Thank you for your patience. We appreciate your cooperation.”

The community is home to people ages 50 and older. Through the tenants association, Smith has organized protests and reached out to Senator Ghazala Hashmi for help.

Legacy at Imperial Village Protest
Legacy at Imperial Village Protest(Janet Smith)

“Senator Hashmi came out here and spoke to our group,” she explained, “I’m working with the senator on getting more protection into the landlord-tenant act.”

Multiple worried residents and family members have contacted the On Your Side Investigators in recent months. Most complaints have been about heating and air.

In an April e-mail, the daughter of one woman wrote:

“She resides on the 8th floor, and we all know that heat rises. Temperatures inside reached up to 82 degrees, and that’s with all the windows open and four fans blowing. She ended up buying another fan from Target because it was so unbearable. She sent a message to management mentioning that she felt unsafe and that she could possibly pass out from a heat stroke. They took over a week to respond to her, and apparently, hers wasn’t the only complaint coming in. There are plenty of residents seeking relief from the heat in the main lobby on the 1st floor, just trying to get that occasional breeze every time the doors open. The majority of the residents are in wheelchairs and aren’t able to venture out. I also heard that there have been multiple residents passing out due to the heat.”

Karan Tipton and her husband have lived at the property for four years and spent nearly 2 weeks without working air conditioning. She says they moved to the property because it was more affordable than their previous community.

“Fix this place. F-I-X, that’s what I need,” she said. “It makes me feel good that somebody like Janet cares enough to do this sort of thing. We do get behind her. She does a wonderful job.”

In a statement to 12 On Your Side, management at the facility wrote:

“I am not aware of any ongoing issues with the air or heat. We are working with Otis Elevators for repairs that were necessary. They will be on-site on Monday (8/21) to start with the repairs. However, we do have working elevators in each building, and that has been the case during the entire time the elevators have been down. Any maintenance concerns are normally called to the front desk, and the team works through them based on urgency.

After hours, we respond once they call the on-call number. In order to help with communication, we send messages out to our residents. We either notify individual buildings or the entire community. This is done through a phone blast, our in-house TV station, and our app. If you have any other questions, please feel free to reach back out to me.”

Janet Smith plans to keep working with residents and intends to keep pushing management for responsiveness and improvements.

“We should not have to beg and grovel for every little thing that we’re entitled to under the law and under the lease,” she said. “The one thing that concerns me is the people that bought this place in 2019, December of 2019, have bought up 30 properties in this state. My concern is, are the other 29 going through this? I get asked every day, where is my rent money going?”