The landlord of an apartment complex shut down by the city now faces a lawsuit from 92 former tenants seeking security deposits, rent refunds and other damages stemming from living in the dilapidated buildings.

The complaint was filed in Douglas County Court last week against Yale Park Apartments owner Kay Anderson and AB Realty, Anderson’s Utah-based limited liability company.

The 92 plaintiffs represent some, but not all, of the roughly 500 refugees from Myanmar who lived in the apartment complex near 34th Avenue and Lake Streets.

On Sept. 20, armed with a search warrant and housing complaints from dozens of tenants, city inspectors swarmed the property. They found gas leaks, mold, bedbugs, ceiling holes and other conditions that led the city to declare all 100 units uninhabitable.

Many residents, who paid less than $600 in rent for two- and three-bedroom apartments, were given only a few hours’ notice that they had to leave and wound up in temporary city shelters for up to a week before finding new homes.

The city cited Anderson, who lived in one of the units with his wife, for nearly 2,000 housing code violations.

Anderson did not return calls seeking comment on the lawsuit and did not answer the door when a reporter visited the property Thursday.

He has said he was unfairly targeted by the city and groups advocating for refugees, and said his former tenants deserve some blame for not taking better care of their apartments.

The plaintiffs are represented by five attorneys.

The complaint says Anderson failed to comply with Nebraska’s Landlord Tenant Act by renting out apartments that didn’t have working heat, failing to make repairs and withholding security deposits.

“Defendants had actual notice of, and wholly failed to repair the squalor and slum-like conditions at Yale Park, including, but not limited to: roaches, bed bugs, holes in ceilings, roof problems, cracked ceilings, light fixtures which did not work, flies and water leaks in multiple locations,” the complaint states.

The plaintiffs are asking for the return of all rent that was paid to Anderson, security deposits, damages for emotional distress, damages related to relocating after the apartments were evacuated and attorneys fees.

Several residents had asked for their $400 security deposits back. Anderson and his wife sent letters in response, offering to waive the cost of property damage that they said totaled thousands of dollars if the residents forfeited their deposit.

In another court filing, attorneys have asked Anderson to turn over tax returns and bank statements dating back to 2007, rent records and any contracts with contractors or pest control companies.

Anderson was sued in 2015 after a boy who lived in one of the Yale Park units was badly burned in a gas explosion while Anderson was trying to repair an HVAC unit himself, according to the lawsuit. He settled with the family for $407,000 in April, court documents show.

The city initially gave Anderson 30 days to fix the most serious problems at the complex, and additional time for more minor problems, but that deadline has been extended. Anderson initially called the timeline “not feasible” but said he’d be willing to address the violations if the city gave him some time and flexibility.

City inspectors have been back to the Yale Park property several times to see if Anderson is making any headway on repairs.

Scott Lane, the city’s chief housing inspector, said Anderson has made little or no progress on rehabbing his property, beyond clearing out some gardens and removing tractors from the site. Gas service, which was shut off because of the leaks found, has been restored.

The couches, tables and other furniture that were left behind by residents and piled near dumpsters in the parking lot are gone, but yellow caution tape placed around the perimeter of the property the day of the mass inspection is still wrapped around fencing. Some apartment doors still bear “Danger — Closed” signs.

Anderson has a new deadline of Jan. 17 to show the city that he’s serious about fixing up the units. After that, the city could levy fines or seek jail time.

“We would hope he has contracts with contractors and permits issued,” Lane said. “That would at least give us some faith.”

But no permits for construction work have been pulled, according to Lane, and he said Anderson told him two weeks ago that he had not yet hired any contractors for repairs. An attorney for Anderson did contact the city and allude to a construction plan that was being drawn up, Lane said.

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Reporter - Education

Erin is an enterprise reporter for the World-Herald. Previously, Erin covered education. Follow her on Twitter @eduff88. Phone: 402-444-1210.

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