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These metro Phoenix apartment complexes had the most evictions during COVID-19

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Meg Potter/The Republic

Renters had a greater chance of their landlord filing to evict them during the pandemic at affordable metro Phoenix apartment complexes from the West Valley to central Mesa.

But most of Maricopa County’s top five apartments for eviction filings during state and federal eviction bans can be found in the affordable Maryvale neighborhood of Phoenix, according to an Arizona Republic investigation.

Some renters at these complexes faced multiple evictions between late March 2020 and February 2021.

All of the top five Valley apartments for evictions had more than 100 filings during the first 11 months of the pandemic, and two complexes had more than 200 filings.

Pamela Bridge, director of advocacy and litigation at Community Legal Services, said landlords kept filing evictions during the pandemic for issues not protected by state and federal eviction moratoriums.

“Landlord attorneys are saying rents are still going up and if a tenant is evicted, another one can be found who will pay rent," she said.

Evictions and rents climb

Despite an Arizona eviction moratorium in place from late March to the end of October and a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moratorium that started in early September, metro Phoenix landlords filed for almost 30,000 evictions through the end of February 2021.

Even though overall eviction filings from late March to February 2021 are down 55% compared to the same months one year earlier, they started climbing last fall in the midst of the CDC moratorium.

Landlords can challenge the CDC eviction protection in Arizona if they think tenants haven’t experienced a substantial loss of income due to COVID-19 or aren’t doing their best to get rental assistance.

Research from national research firm RentCafe shows 96% of metro Phoenix apartments are leased now, and the typical rental only stays vacant for an average of 33 days. It ranked the Valley the 22nd “hottest rental market” out of 125 U.S. metro areas.

Phoenix-area evictions: They didn’t stop during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s why

Bridge said evictions are also up because more landlords are filing to evict for issues not related to rent or the CDC ban, including barking dogs and other minor issues.

Landlord advocates say while some big apartment owners may have filed for more evictions because of their size, larger properties also likely provided more partial payment plans and waived tens of thousands of dollars more in rent and fees.

Many bigger apartment owners received federal Paycheck Protection Program loans and were able to absorb the massive losses created by an eviction moratorium more easily than smaller landlords.

Courtney Gilstrap LeVinus, president and CEO of the Arizona Multihousing Association, said while a barking dog may sound trivial to some, it’s typically a neighbor who complains to the rental owner or manager and demands that the situation be remedied.

“This is equally true when there’s a vermin or cockroach problem, smoking complaints, incessant loud music and other nuisance behaviors that a landlord is statutorily bound to remedy,” she said.

Maryvale is top area for evictions

In west Phoenix’s affordable Maryvale neighborhood, two complexes — the Del Mar Terrace apartments and the Cove Apartments — topped the list for the most eviction filings between late March 2020 and February of this year.

Both are owned by the Heers Trust of Nevada and California, according to property records. 

During the pandemic period tracked by The Republic analysis, Heers filed 241 eviction notices against renters in the Del Mar complex. Located at 7007 W. Indian School Road, it has 1,021 units, according to Apartments.com.  

During the pandemic period tracked by The Republic analysis, the owners of the Del Mar Terrace apartments in Phoenix filed 241 eviction notices against renters in the complex.
During the pandemic period tracked by The Republic analysis, the owners of the Del Mar Terrace apartments in Phoenix filed 241 eviction notices against renters in the complex.
Meg Potter/The Republic

At the Cove Apartments, 217 eviction filings happened during the first 11 months of the pandemic. That complex at 2545 N. 83rd Ave. has 652 units.

Rents start at about $950 for a one bedroom at both complexes, which is about $300 below the average rent for a Phoenix apartment. 

More than 120 renters at Heers-owned properties received eviction notices more than once during the pandemic. One renter had 10 eviction filings between March 2020 and February 2021. Several others had two to eight filings. 

Neither Heers or its eviction attorney, Hull, Holliday & Holliday, responded to questions about evictions at these apartments.

Heers was also a top eviction pursuer on metro Phoenix properties covered under the CARES Act eviction moratorium between late March and August 2020.

At The Cove Apartments in Phoenix, 217 evictions were filed by Heers Trust of Nevada and California during the first 11 months of the pandemic.
At The Cove Apartments in Phoenix, 217 evictions were filed by Heers Trust of Nevada and California during the first 11 months of the pandemic.
Meg Potter/The Republic

As part of the first COVID-19 stimulus act, landlords couldn’t evict tenants for not paying rent if their properties were backed by federal loans. 

A 2020 Republic investigation found at least 60 wrongful evictions at three other Maryvale complexes owned by Heers with federally backed mortgages. Those complexes include: the Cameron Apartments at 5421 W. Indian School Road, Parkwood Apartments at 6751 W. Indian School Road and Desert Point Apartments at 6405 W. McDowell Road.

‘A nightmare for too many’: Hundreds of Arizona renters may have been wrongfully evicted during pandemic

Last November, Hull, Holliday & Holliday said in a statement that initially it “verified” those properties didn’t have federal funding.

“We recently discovered that we may have received inaccurate information and that some funding may be backed by a federal mortgage,” the law firm said.

“We regret any actions that made it more difficult for some residents and families. We already have begun to look into this matter and it’s our intention to remedy this very unfortunate situation if we verify that a property was covered by the CARES Act.”

Hull, Holliday & Holliday also didn’t respond to a recent question on whether wrongful evictions under the CARES Act at those properties have been dismissed or if those renters have been compensated. 

No. 3 for evictions also in Maryvale

The owners of the Villas De Azul Apartments filed 141 evictions at the complex during the first 11 months of the pandemic. The complex at 2627 N. 45th Ave. has 301 apartments. 

Like the other Maryvale complexes hard hit by evictions, rents are affordable at Villas De Azul. The monthly payment on a one bedroom at the complex starts at $885, according to Apartments.com.

It is managed by Western Wealth Communities and was bought by a Canadian group called WWC L VII in September 2020. 

Western Wealth didn’t respond to requests for comment.

But through a Zillow spokesperson working with Western Wealth, the management company said it has helped “237 families in the Phoenix area stay housed during the pandemic by facilitating their access to $1.2 million in rental assistance.”

Your eviction questions answered: Do evictions impact credit scores? Who is covered by CDC moratorium?

High number of evictions in Mesa

The owner of the Mesa Ridge Apartments filed 120 evictions during the pandemic. The complex at 650 S. Country Club Drive with 151 units is in an affordable area of central Mesa.

The complex is owned by Mesa Ridge NSMM LLC. 

At Mesa Ridge Apartments in Mesa, 120 evictions were filed during the first 11 months of the pandemic.
At Mesa Ridge Apartments in Mesa, 120 evictions were filed during the first 11 months of the pandemic.
Meg Potter/The Republic

An average rent for apartments in Mesa Ridge wasn’t available at Apartments.com because it shows none of the units is are available for leasing now.

Neither Nicolan Management, which is listed as the apartments management firm, nor the owners responded to requests for comment about evictions at Mesa Ridge. 

'It costs a lot of money to be poor': How 1 renter faced 11 evictions in 1 year 

Another West Valley complex

A Deer Valley apartment property with 114 evictions during COVID-19 is No. 5 on the list of metro Phoenix apartment complexes with the most overall evictions.

The Mod Apartments at 2222 W. Beardsley Road is also managed by Western Wealth Communities and owned by the Canadian group WWC LV1. It was purchased in December of last year.

Rents for a studio start at $800 in the complex.

Reach reporter Jessica Boehm at jessica.boehm@gannett.com or 480-694-1823. Follow her on Twitter @jboehm_NEWS. Reach reporter Catherine Reagor at catherine.reagor@arizonarepublic.com or 602-568-2856. Follow her on Twitter @catherinereagor. Reach reporter Ralph Chapoco at ralph.chapoco@arizonarepublic.com and follow him on Twitter @rchapoco.

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