7 On Your Side: Lease Dispute - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas


7 On Your Side: Lease Dispute

  Last June Marie Hanf celebrated her 90th birthday and it seemed like there would be many more. "She drove up to September," says Marie's son Leonard Thomason. Shortly after though, she began getting sick and ultimately lost a battle with liver cancer last month. But Leonard and his family have yet to completely grieve. "The money is not the issue here at all, not anymore," says Leonard.  
  Marie lived at The Villas of Pine Ridge, a senior living community in Tyler. Her son was surprised to find out why the company would not refund his mother's security deposit. "I said, 'What do you mean? How can my mother break the lease? She died the 18th you can't give a 30-day notice.'"  
  When asked for an on-camera interview, Villas of Pine Ridge instead responded with a written statement citing paragraph 22 in the lease, where it says a resident won't be released from its terms for reasons including death. Marie Hanf signed the standard Texas Apartment Association lease and if you rent in East Texas you've probably signed it too. But for a community with tenants who are primarily seniors, is it fair to withhold their deposit if they die unexpectedly? "That shouldn't be in any contract," says Leonard.
  Villas of Pine Ridge also says their decision not to collect rent through the end of Marie Hanf's lease "conveys a compassionate business approach not mimicked by most businesses." "[My mother] would say Leonard do you what you have to do to help the other people," says Leonard, commenting about how his mother would respond. Leonard hopes sharing his story with 7 On Your Side will help other renters. Maybe now the grieving process can begin.
  Leonard Thomason has also filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. The BBB says while it disagrees with the fact the deposit wasn't refunded, Villas of Pine Ridge is within its rights to do so.

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com

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