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Enforcement Case Studies

Examples of Code Enforcement cases around the state of Ohio

Riveria Maia in Toledo

Happy ending at Riviera Maia?
       The saga of Riviera Maia apartments in Toledo may be moving towards happy ending for neighbors and the city. Still, it is not clear what happened to the displaced tenants when the property was shuttered due to owner neglect. 
       Also not clear is whether the newly rehabbed property will remain affordable for the low income residents who formerly called it home.
       Toledo Blade reports "People could move into the former Riviera Maia apartments in less than two months, the complex’s future owners said Thursday when they met with neighbors and city leaders at the site.Amid the rumble of construction, representatives from Contour Development Group, of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., visited the property, which will be renamed the Larchmont Estates."

posted April 16, 2016

April 8, 2016 Toledo Blade Bloomfield Hills firm buying Riviera Maia
The Riviera Maia apartment complex of 504 units in West Toledo was ordered closed in December of 2014. A Bloomfield Hills, Mich. company plans to purchase and redevelop the property. The Riviera Maia apartment complex of 504 units in West Toledo was ordered closed in December of 2014. A Bloomfield Hills, Mich. company plans to purchase and redevelop the property. A Bloomfield Hills, Mich., company plans to buy the vacant and deteriorating Riviera Maia apartment complex in West Toledo within several days and spend $18 million redeveloping the buildings, The Blade has learned. Contour Development Group will close “within the next several days,” buying the 504-unit garden apartment complex for $2.6 million, said Pete Dedvukaj, a partner in the firm.

Toledo court finds "slumlord" guilty of failure to address housing code violations

Toledo Blade reports: "Judge McConnell then sentenced her to pay a $75 fine on each of the three counts and serve 12 months of probation. He also ordered her to pay the court costs and reimburse the city for the property maintenance costs. He said those costs will likely be in excess of $100,000, and that Ms. Sklarov should be able to afford it once the sale of the property occurs. Mr. Phillips said his client, who is court-authorized to sell the property, and a potential buyer are preparing for the sale and will know in two weeks whether they are going ahead with it.
1. Court was able to pierce the corporate veil that owners built to shield them from liability.
2. Being "out of town" owners didn't seem to stop the prosecution, but...
3. Tenants are still displaced and not compensated (their suit is still pending.)
What is just a little obscene is the defendant's attorney seeking sympathy for his client by referring to her as a "single mother of four" after she and her ex-husband conspired to put the property into a trust to benefit their children. Gimme a break.

Owners blame "Trust" for failure to maintain apartments
Toledo Blade reports the the owners of Rivieria Maia apartments claimed that they weren't the owners...the property belonged to a "Trust" formed by the (now divorced) Chicago couple. Meanwhile, their court appearance was the opportunity for a lawyer representing tenants to serve his notice of the tenants' lawsuit against the "owners".
"As Mr. Sklarov and his Chicago-area lawyer, Deborah Kimelman, left the courtroom they were served with legal notice of a lawsuit filed by Jack Fynes, the attorney for a group of more than 60 former Riviera Maia tenants. The suit alleges substandard conditions, withheld security deposits, embezzlement, illegal water charges, and retaliation."

City sues owners of troubled apartments
Toledo Blade reports that the City of Toledo is seeking $108,295 from the owners of the Riviera Maia Apartments. The money would compensate the city for unpaid water and sewer fees as well as reimbursement for inspections, emergency housing for dislocated tenants, and security. read more here:

Arrest warrant issued for owners of shuttered Riviera Maia Apartments
Toledo Blade reports on 12/14/14 that : Toledo Housing Court Judge C. Allen McConnell today issued arrest warrants for Mr. and Mrs. Sklarov, the estranged Chicago-area couple who own the apartments in a trust for their children. He also ordered bonds of $50,000 each. Vladimir and Sharon Sklarov, owners of the shuttered Riviera Maia Apartments, will face arrest if they venture into Lucas County.

Former tenants at Rivieria Maia sue
Claims include loss of security deposits, illegal water reselling, personal injury from accidents and illness and damages resulting from failure to maintain habitable conditions.

Judge tells Riviera Maia owners to hire security for complex
hum...sort of like locking the barn after the horse has been stolen?

This is horrifying
Toledo Blade looks into the collapse of the Riviera Maia apartments which has displaced hundreds of households because of dangerous living conditions. Here's what they found: "While residents of Riviera Maia Apartments in Toledo were grappling with mold and collapsing ceilings from leaky roofs, the Chicago-area owners of the complex were in court arguing over cars, jewels, and an alleged nonperforming business in Ukraine. The 504-unit garden apartment complex once known as Larchmont Gardens was launched to public hoopla in 1951, a response to the post-World War II baby boom. Today the apartments are closed, the most recent act in a years-long decline under the ownership of Sharon and Vladimir “Val” Sklarov, who are now going through their own legal collapse — a marriage dissolution in affluent Lake County, Ill.
Question remains: how did tenants and the community permit these conditions to go on so long and end up in such dire consequences?

Judge says Riviera Maia decision was hasty.
The Toledo Blade reports: "Judge McConnell said he realizes the electrical service was improper, but said, 'They should have contacted me and asked me for an order.' He said he would probably have agreed to close the buildings but would also have given the occupants 72-hours notice. The problem with the wiring has been known for several years, but came to a head for some buildings on Nov. 21 and for others on Dec. 3 when Mr. Golis labeled the buildings unfit for occupancy. Toledo Edison crews were called to sever the electrical service drop to each building. Riviera Maia, at 1233 Cribb St., formerly known as Larchmont Gardens, has 32 two-story brick buildings and a swimming pool."

More families displaced in Toledo.
Toledo Blade is reporting that "All of Riviera Maia condemned: 100 families displaced as city orders units closed". This article follows up on earlier actions by the City of Toledo to force owners at Rivera Maia to improve conditions. Sadly, it means that more families will be displaced from their homes at this holiday season. RHINO has been featuring stories about code enforcement in an effort to show how local government can help protect tenants when tenants are afraid to act for themselves. Unfortunately the cost of waiting for the city to act could be the loss of your home. At least in Toledo, the city is providing some relocation assistance to families. read more here:

and here:
Follow up with the displaced households

Toledo closes 8 buildings for code violations
Toledo Blade reports: "An apartment complex in West Toledo is called Riviera Maia, apparently after the exotic Mexican resort area. All the apartment layouts have Mexican names, such as Acapulco and Playa. But right now, about the only thing the two have in common is water. In the Toledo case, it’s leaking through the ceilings. The city of Toledo last week ordered the closure of eight out of 63 buildings at the garden apartment complex, declaring them unfit and uninhabitable, after the owners, Kidz Real Estate Group LLC of Chicago, had voluntarily closed 19 buildings."
“It’s beyond us why anyone would purposely allow their asset to be devalued,” he said. “We can make them make the improvements or tear down the nuisance.” He said the city would like to work with the owners to restore the buildings because rental apartments are in demand in Toledo."

Toledo Blade reports that "Toledo Municipal Housing Judge C. Allen McConnell on Thursday imposed a $100,000 fine against the absentee real estate company that owns the vacant and deteriorating Riviera Maia Apartment complex. The penalty was imposed on KIDZ Real Estate Group after Judge McConnell rescheduled a planned trial of one of KIDZ’s alleged owners, Sharon Sklarov, because of her demand for trial by a jury. The city claims Ms. Sklarov and her former husband, who are Chicago-area business owners, are Riviera Maia’s actual owners, despite a web of legal entities that obscure the true ownership. The Sklarovs, now divorced, have claimed the property is owned by a trust, not them, even though they established the trust for the benefit of their children."

 What's News?

Owners fined, buildings gone reports: "Cleveland spends $200M to demolish "unlivable" buildings." The article describes the sad fate of two buildings near Cleveland's landmark Shaker Square neighborhood.  Shaker Square Alliance director Charles Bromley "continues to push for at least partial reinstatement of the city's deactivated multi-family housing inspection unit, which at one time numbered 25." After spending money for prosecution and demoltion, the cuts of the code enforcement unit seem "penny wise and pound foolish". More on Riviera Maia saga here.

Tenants sue subsidized housing owner for hazards
Cincinnati Enquirer reports that tenants have sued the owner of Entowne Apartments over poor conditions. "Residents of the building on Reading Road in Avondale described broken door locks, electrical problems, faulty sinks and toilets, and a collapsed ceiling due to water leakage." Seems like the City and HUD are both aware of the problems at the building. Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless is providing organizing support to the tenants. PS: Entowne's owner also owns The Alms, which should be under HUD enforcement action following two below 60 REAC scores.

 Notes & Links

Criminalizing "home"