If you live in a multifamily building, like an apartment complex, there’s a good chance your home is owned by a corporate entity that controls many other buildings like yours. According to one study published by the New York Times, only about 8% of U.S buildings intended to house 50 or more families were owned by private citizens as of 2015, a number that had been steadily shrinking over previous years.
This means that important decisions about how your building is run are likely made by someone who knows it only as a set of numbers on a balance sheet. Security spending is one of those decisions, one that your life and the lives of your loved ones may depend on. Unfortunately, security is an area many property management companies think they can skimp on to pad the bottom line.
It is one of The Stoddard Firm’s missions to hold companies accountable when they put the public at risk, and to make these practices unprofitable through successful litigation.
When discussing owners of large amounts of residential property in Georgia, there are several major company names that inevitably come up, and one of them is Radco.
Radco Controls Dozens of Properties Across the American Southeast
Radco’s business model is built on purchasing “distressed” properties that existing owners are willing to part with relatively cheaply, and then investing in renovations to raise the properties’ value and profitability. While this practice is generally more controversial from an affordable housing standpoint than a small-scale crime prevention one, it’s important to keep in mind that Radco and similar companies do exist to make a profit, and in any profit-driven pursuit, there’s always the possibility of corner-cutting to stretch those profits.
Unlike many companies that invest in as many properties as Radco does, Radco does not contract with third-party property management companies to handle day-to-day operations. Instead, they perform these functions through their own in-house property management company, Radco Residential. The reason for this is ostensibly quality assurance and consistency, although Radco Residential’s effectiveness at providing tenants with quality support is debatable.
The Better Business Bureau Has Received Multiple Troubling Complaints About Radco
As of this posting, Radco Residential has an F rating from the Better Business Bureau, on the basis of 36 complaints filed against the company, six of which Radco has not responded to, and two of which received a response but have not been resolved. The content of the complaints focuses mainly on health and pest-control issues, as well as several alarming allegations of fraudulent collections practices, but some raise security concerns as well. Two complainants describe living in units with broken door locks after having made management aware of the problem, and another claims to have lived in fear of retaliation by a neighbor, after Radco Residential allegedly disclosed a complaint the tenant had made about that neighbor.
Minimum standards of security in multifamily homes are vague, subjective, and heavily dependent on the expected risk of crime on an individual property, but working locks on every door are an absolute must, even in the safest area. Violence between tenants in the same building can also be the responsibility of management, if management contributed to the environment of violence, or was aware of it and did nothing.
Radco Has Not Always Succeeded at Protecting Tenants from Repeat Dangers
The concept of security negligence is similar to most other forms of negligence, in that it’s closely linked with the predictability of injuries. In order for a landlord to be liable for harm that comes to tenants on a property, that harm must have been foreseeable, and reasonable preventive measures not taken. For example, a landlord might not be able to predict a tenant falling and hitting his head on a normally safe walkway due to an epileptic seizure, but should be able to predict someone falling due to a crack in the walkway that has already tripped up other tenants.
Likewise, if a home invasion occurs in a usually safe neighborhood, in spite of basic security measures like working locks and adequate lighting, the property owner might not share any fault for the outcome. If there have been previous home invasions in the building or surrounding area, however, and building management has failed to raise security proportionately to the danger, then further harm done in future home invasions would be attributable to negligent security.
Unfortunately, when a tenant falls victim to a violent crime, the obvious guilt of the assailant often distracts from landlord responsibility. As a result, security tends to be the most overlooked element of a landlord’s responsibility to provide a safe environment. For this reason, a landlord’s commitment to protecting tenants from crime can often be predicted based on the attention given to protecting tenants from more obviously litigation-worthy threats.
Radco in particular has a concerning history when it comes to controlling one repeating threat to tenant wellbeing: fire.
Possible Gas Leaks, Suspected Faulty Wiring, and Arson
In March of 2015 in DeKalb County, a fire destroyed 24 apartments in the Radco-owned complex of Ashford Druid Hills. The fire chief reported that the blaze appeared to have started at the complex’s gas meters, and that firefighters were unable to extinguish it completely due to the continuing flow of gas.
More recently, in April of 2019, another fire claimed the homes of 19 families living in the Ashford 6860 apartment complex, another Radco property in Norcross County. An investigation found the point of ignition to be a wall between two units, pointing to a possible electrical short.
This was one year after another Ashford 6860 maintenance issue made the news, when a family reported living in a flooded apartment for nearly a month. The mother told reporters that one of her children had begun having respiratory issues that their doctor attributed to living in high humidity, and that building management had told her that moving to another unit would cost her an additional $500 a month.
Radco properties in other parts of the country have had trouble with fire as well, including a pair of townhomes in Tennessee, and a complex in Florida where a man had to jump from his third-story balcony.
Of course, fire can also be directly related to crime, beyond serving as a rough bellwether of maintenance and safety standards. Three years after its near-total destruction in that gas line fire, the Ashford Druid Hills complex suffered a pair of small fires with signs of probable arson. Twice within a week and a half, a resident found one of his patio chairs on fire. Surveillance footage from after the two fires shows a man approaching the chair with a lit cigarette, noticing the camera, and leaving. Reports do not specify whether complex management offered assistance with capturing that footage, or whether the resident acted alone with his own money. In either case, the arsonist was not apprehended.
Carjackings and Armed Robberies
Arson isn’t the only crime Radco property residents have had to contend with. In May of 2017, a teenager living in Radco’s Spalding Bridge Apartments complex in Sandy Springs was robbed at gunpoint by a classmate and two accomplices, who he says took his iPhone and camera. It’s unclear whether Radco took any steps to address the clear danger of gun violence on the property, but the following year, two residents of the same complex were non-fatally shot by an unidentified assailant.
Gun- and car-related violence has been a problem for other Radco locations as well. In June of 2015, a Jeep was stolen from the parking lot of the Ashford 2788 complex in Buckhead. This happened after a resident had already interrupted the suspect, apparently in the act of trying to steal a different vehicle from the complex. The next year, in Smyrna, a Dunkin’ Donuts next to a Radco complex fell victim to an armed robbery. Two suspects escaped in a vehicle that police believe may have been parked in the lot of the Radco property, the Ashford 75 apartment complex.
Over in Northeast Atlanta in 2018, the Cheshire Bridge Road area was facing a string of possibly connected carjackings and armed robberies. Radco owns a complex on Cheshire Bridge Road, named Radius Cheshire Bridge Apartments, and in September of that year, the local crime problem spilled onto the complex’s doorstep. In this case, Radco had provided a gate and security guard, which were thankfully enough to protect the residents, but apparently not intimidating enough to deter criminals in advance before violence could ensue. After noticing a car circling the complex in a suspicious manner, the security guard attempted to confront the driver. According to the guard’s account, the driver then rammed him with the car, pinning him against another vehicle, and only retreated when the guard drew and fired at him. The guard had to be treated for his injuries at a local hospital.
Radco Residents Around the Country Face Similar Threats
The Ashford Meridian Hills complex in Indiana has been particularly beset with disturbing incidents. In October of 2018, a woman was shot at while returning home to the complex from a nearby Save-a-Lot. Thankfully, no one was injured, but the woman was understandably rattled by the fact that her children were in the car at the time. She believes her vehicle was mistaken for someone else’s. Three months later, police began investigating a rash of food delivery workers being robbed at gunpoint in the area, including at least one case inside the Ashford Meridian Hills, suggesting an unaddressed pattern of criminal activity coming from within the premises.
The Stoddard Firm Has Experience with Corporate Landlords Security Cases
We know how difficult it can be to obtain compensation after a violent crime. Violent offenders often go unidentified or have no money to pay off a settlement, and people can be hesitant to assign blame to anyone but the individual criminal. Sadly, our culture is more amenable to blaming the victim of a crime than the owner of the property where it took place, an attitude that the real estate industry encourages.
At The Stoddard Firm, we believe in holding landlords responsible for exposing their tenants, employees, and guests to known dangers, including the danger of violent crime, and we have a strong track record of doing exactly that. We’ll work with you to learn the truth of what happened, what similar crimes have happened in the past, and what effective security measures your landlord could have taken, but didn’t, so that we can argue your case to a judge and jury in terms they’ll respect and understand.
As well as having extensive experience in negligent security law, we’re also Georgia locals, familiar with good and bad patterns of property management in the Atlanta metropolitan area, and with the major local players in the industry, including Radco.
If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one due to violent crime on a Radco-owned property, reach out today through our online chat function, or give us a call at 678-RESULT to discuss your case with an expert in a completely free consultation.
Tell us about your concern and request a free, no obligation, confidential legal consultation.
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As the survivor describes the attack, he was approached by a young man who offered to sell him marijuana. After he declined, the man signaled to several others with gang signs, and more arrive...