‘I have all of my receipts:’ Low-income residents at Gray Gardens receive fines of thousands of dollars for past-due rent
GRAY, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Residents at an apartment complex in Jones County are receiving notices about fines for thousands of dollars. However, they say those fines are for rent they’ve already paid.
Some residents say they received non-renewal of lease notices because of the outstanding balances.
41NBC counted nine apartments at the Gray Gardens complex that received past-due notices taped to their doors. Most of the residents qualify for Federal Housing Assistance.
The residents we interviewed produced receipts showing the accounts as current; however, those residents want to know why they received a fine for additional costs.
One resident, who wants to remain anonymous, has lived at Gray Gardens for 30 years. She received a notice on Saturday saying she owed nearly $7,000 with only three days to pay it.
“I moved in 1985 with a $50 security deposit,” she said. “But on the paper they sent me, they said that my security deposit was $277 – which is weird.”
Some of the other amounts on her invoice date back to 2013. But she provided proof of payments.
“I have all of my receipts where I paid,” she said.
Hallmark is the complex’s management company. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Office of Rural Development works with Hallmark because it’s low-income housing.
“It would definitely seem unreasonable,” Deborah Callahan with USDA said. “But also how did that account go un-managed for so long that there were $7,000 of unpaid rent? How is that person even still living there?”
Callahan says Gray Gardens is between new management after firing its previous manager.
“This is why we have a new manager and this is not acceptable,” Callahan said. “We understand $6,000 is a lot for someone that’s already in hardship.”
41NBC spoke with Gray Gardens’ manager Dee Andrew on the phone. She says she’s more than happy to work out payment plans and review proof of payments with those who received letters.
Callahan says they are not starting eviction proceedings. But if they do, the USDA will work with Hallmark to follow the legal eviction protocol.