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Tenants living upstairs at flooded apartment held to their lease agreement

2 months 1 week 23 hours ago Wednesday, May 26 2021 May 26, 2021 May 26, 2021 6:32 PM May 26, 2021 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - The images are shocking, scary and still unforgettable for people who lived through it. Flooding rain poured into the first-floor apartments at Siegen Calais last week off Siegen Lane. It also flooded in 2016.

But not everyone is getting a chance to pack up for higher ground.

An email went out last week to tenants that says people living in the downstairs units can get out of their lease. Tenants like Nikita Johnson who are living on the second floor don't have that same choice.

"Well, what warrants a lease termination? Should we die in here?" she said.

Johnson moved into Siegen Calais last month. Since she's moved in, Johnson says she's experienced multiple issues with her air conditioning unit, her parking pass, and now the units below her flooding. The high water swallowed up her car last week.

"Do you see how high that water got on the bottom floor? We had to be boated out of here," Johnson said.

Tenants were rescued by boat Monday night, including Johnson and her two young children.

"My kids never experienced that. They're 12 and seven," Johnson said. "My son was giving my 7-year-old his last will and testament in child form. 'Sister, if anything happens to me you can have all my toys.' Do you know how much it hurt me to hear him sitting on the sofa saying that?"

As her neighbors continue to toss out all their damaged property, Johnson, while above the flood line wants out of her lease. She contacted 2 On Your Side after Siegen Calais staff sent an email to the tenants explaining what's next, including who will and who won't be let out of their leases. It says downstairs residents only will be let out of their lease without penalty. People on the second floor will stay.

"For them to tell the bottom residents they can terminate their lease but not for us at the top, like what do I have to do to tell you that I need to leave?" she said.

Johnson responded to the property management company, First Choice Management Group, saying that she'd like to be excused from her lease for various reasons. The management responded and said that if she breaks her lease she'll be liable. First and foremost, Johnson says she's worried about the mold.

"No one wants to get sick from that - I have two kids!" she said.

Regardless of what happens, Johnson says this weekend she's moving out and refuses to write her apartment complex another check.

WBRZ reached out to First Choice Management Group about Johnson's lease and has not heard back.

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