Las Vegas Sun

July 24, 2014

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Suit leads to evictions of apartment dwellers

The property owner of a Las Vegas apartment complex issued eviction notices to all of her residents Monday after some of them filed a lawsuit against her.

All in one day, residents of Willson Square Apartments received a combination of 3-day eviction notices, five-day notices to "pay rent or quit," and 30-day notices to "quit," which some believe to be retaliation after some residents filed a lawsuit against the property owner, Norma Jakubowski.

Six residents of the 24-unit apartment complex off Swenson Street and Sierra Vista Drive co-signed a lawsuit against Jakubowksi earlier this month for breach of contract, unjust enrichment and failure to maintain habitable dwellings.

Clark County inspectors discovered numerous safety violations at the complex last week, including hypodermic needles around the building and broken smoke detectors in some of the apartments.

Jakubowski's husband was served the lawsuit a week ago.

A paralegal for Silver State Legal Support who assisted the residents in filing the necessary papers for their lawsuit said Jakubowski was clearly retaliating by issuing the notices.

"She is totally PO'ed, to put it politely, and a judge will most likely see this as retaliation," said Elizabeth, the paralegal who declined to give her last name.

"Before this, she was happy as a pig in mud," she said of Jakubowski. "Now, all of a sudden because of a lawsuit and because the county is putting pressure on her, she wants everybody gone."

She said the residents are preparing an injunction, which would override their eviction notices and allow them to remain living at the complex until their lawsuit is settled.

Jakubowski, a Henderson resident, said she is simply trying to clear her property of "squatters" who have not been paying rent for months. Once they are out, correcting the complex's safety violations will be easier, she said.

"You can't work on cleaning the property if people are going to keep trashing it," she said. "We're just trying to find out who's in there illegally."

Jakubowski said she has already hired people to drain the property's pool, in which county inspectors found garbage, and to rid the property of fire hazards that had been noted by inspectors. To begin further repairs, she said, she must clear her property of everyone who has not been paying rent.

According to Jakubowski, only two of her tenants are paying rent. Jakubowski said she didn't know which tenants were paying rent.

The person who is leading the lawsuit effort, Susan Anderson, has been living at Willson Apartments since February 2002 and has receipts for her payment of rent.

If Jakubowski does not fix the violations in a reasonable amount of time, the county could take control of the complex and eventually put the land up for auction.

However, residents like Ann Mackey are concerned because they haven't known to whom to pay rent for the past few months.

Mackey moved into her apartment in May and signed a lease with one of Jakubowski's former managers. She said the manager then ran off with her rent money and the rent money of other tenants. Another manager was hired a month later, but he, too, ran off with the rent money, she said.

After two corrupt managers, some residents went on "renter's strike."

Jakubowski said she does not personally know why she issued the three kinds of eviction notices simultaneously, only that her attorney advised her to do so.

Annamarie Johnson, director of litigation for Nevada Legal Services, said she can only guess that Jakubowski's lawyer is attempting to rush the process of evicting Willson Square's residents.

"You are supposed to send a 30-day notice, and then a 5-day notice, and then finally a 3-day notice," Johnson said. "It seems to me like they're trying to expedite the process."

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