Surprise Eviction for Willow Bend Apartment Tenants

JACKSONVILLE, AR - The parents of a two-year-old who died in a Jacksonville apartment complex have been given 10 days to move out after they failed to pay the rent.

We initially covered this story because parents were concerned that this and another's child's death could have been linked to the condition of the apartments.

According to Jessica Rollins, she was under the impression that a verbal agreement had been reached.

But according to Rollins on August 18 she received a letter telling her she had 10 days to vacate the premises, instead of the 30 day notice she pointed to in her lease terms. Another letter she had been provided made note that her rent could increase but did not mention termination.

"I talked to Miss Erica in the office about I wasn't going to be able to pay my rent this month because my son passing away and had to pay for his funeral and I would double it next month," said Rollins.

"When you buy your home, your grandmother, father, and baby die you can't call the landlord and say I can't pay my rent cause my baby died. You're supposed to have your stuff together. I'm just being honest," says Lolita Hill.

Lolita Hill lives in Willow Bend, and we're told by tenants she's married to a person who works in the apartment's management. She wanted to speak to us saying she feels the apartments' conditions are just fine despite Rollins' and other tenants' complaints regarding mold and maintenance issues. She alleged Rollins was looking to blame someone for her son's death and was looking to get money out of it.

We asked Rollins if those accusations were true, and she says she hasn't sought any money from her son's death and she's wracked her memory to think of ways she and her son's father may have been responsible. They simply don't believe they were.

Willow Bend Apartment's is managed by Royal American, when Jessica Rollins and a number of other tenants at Willow Bend had questions regarding a lease addendum and new house rules that the apartment is requiring tenants to sign or face eviction, they released the following statement to us:

Jessica Rollins and a number of other tenants at Willow Bend contacted us regarding a lease addendum and new house rules the apartment is requiring tenants to sign or face eviction.
Response: We have not issued new house rules. We have asked the residents to come to the office to review the existing house rules with Management to give the residents an opportunity to ask questions/ discuss concerns.

We have put a new procedure in place for submitting requests for maintenance repairs. Requests for work must be submitted in writing to the on-site rental office- as it helps management better understand the request, enables better tracking and follow up of the requests. This new policy will benefit residents.
Response: We have asked the residents to come in to sign the new procedure and existing house rules.
I wanted to know if Royal American had a statement regarding those new house rules.
The House Rules are not new. They are the same as they have always been. See statement above.

Jessica Rollins also stated that she had been re-certified for a new amount for her rent, and following her son's death had spoken with management on-site, asking if she could pay double in September because she would not be able to make the rent in August.
Although we are unable to speak specifically about individual residents out of respect for their privacy, management does make efforts to work with residents who are having difficulties paying rent due to extraordinary circumstances. If management agrees to accept a rent payment due to extraordinary circumstances, the agreement would be in writing spelling out the terms of the agreement. Even with such an agreement in place, notices for non-payment would still be issued to the resident as per State Landlord-Tenant laws. This is done in the event the resident does not follow through with the terms of the agreement.

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