By Robbie Ward
TUPELO – A lawsuit has been filed to prevent owners of a high-end apartment complex from charging May rent or removing belongings within a month for about 300 residents.
Tupelo attorney James Moore on Friday filed for an injunction in Lee County Circuit Court on behalf of residents of Vista Ridge apartments just off North Gloster Street to allow them adequate time to remove their possessions from nine of the 10 units the city has declared uninhabitable after damage sustained from Monday’s tornado.
Vista Ridge Apartments LTD is named as the defendant in the lawsuit.
“The written notice advised tenants that their leases were immediately terminated and all items had to be removed by Monday or else Vista Ridge would remove their property,” Moore said late Friday.
“…the Plaintiffs have not been able to remove all of their belongings from the Vista Ridge Apartments and need more time to do so,” state the legal documents filed.
Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton posted an open message to residents of Vista Ridge apartments on Tupelo’s official Facebook page and his personal social media page that the city will assist with legal efforts against the apartment’s owners and property management company if possessions are removed.
“I have requested written confirmation that there will be no May rent and you will have 30 days to get your belongings,” Shelton posted on Facebook. “If we do not get that in the next few hours we will help seek an injunction on your behalf in court.”
The city on Thursday designated most of the Vista Ridge apartment units as unsafe for occupancy. However, city spokeswoman Sarah Robinson emailed a news release later in the day stating the city “has not issued an order of removal for the Vista Ridge Apartments or any other residence.”
Efforts late Friday to reach representatives with either the apartment company or the property management company were unsuccessful.
City attorney Ben Logan said he spoke with property owners today and received assurance belongings wouldn’t be removed.
“We asked for that in writing and they were not able to provide it to us by the close of business today,” Logan said. “If that happens, we’ll have a discussion with the attorney general.”