Rally Demands University Oaks Management Compensate tenants for losses caused by fire

By Joe Johnson

Community activists on Sunday

By Joe Johnson

Community activists on Sunday said they were scheduled to held a rally today at the University Oaks Apartments complex, where the that limited the belongings ok losses residents of 14 units were displaced by fire Friday afternoon but no residents or firefighters were injured.

Although investigators as of Sunday had yet to determine the cause of the fire, activists are calling on University Oaks management to fully compensate for property destroyed in the blaze, and that they immediately renovate all buildings to ensure maximum safety for tenants.

"Management must also assume full responsibility for temporarily housing tenants directly impacted by the fire," said Addison Clapp, a member of the Athens Unit of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, which organized the rally.

"While canvassing University Oaks neighbors for rental assistance in February 2022, PSL activists with the Party for Socialism and Liberation encountered units that had expired fire alarms, missing fire extinguishers, broken fire escape doors, and no functioning sprinkler system, according to Clapp.

Friday's fire, he said, started in Building M and destroyed the building, leaving all of the 14 units – 12 of which were occupied – unsuitable for living. "Proper precautions were not taken by management of the complex to ensure a disaster like this could be stopped," Clapp said.

A tenant who asked to remain anonymous, said that when they saw smoke in their apartment, they notified managemeto call the Fire Department “because the smoke filters aren’t up to date.” Real Estate Asset Partners describes University Oaks as having “fallen into a state of disrepair through mismanagement and neglect.”

University Oaks is one of the highest evictors in Athens-Clarke County, according to public records. They will not blink before throwing their tenants on the streets for missing a rent payment, but refuse to ensure tenants’ safety in their own homes. “I can’t imagine living in a place as unsafe as this,” said activist Trey Holloway who spoke to tenants and saw the lack of fire safety. “Constantly fearing for my safety, knowing that if a fire broke out, I might not be able to survive… Nobody deserves to live like that.”

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