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Battle over apartment security doors goes to court

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Posted at 4:49 PM, Aug 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-23 22:22:06-04

A judge got his first look Wednesday at settling a fight over an apartment complex's security doors.

Dora LaGrande took the stand on behalf of Sarann Knight Apartments near H Street and Owens.

She told the judge that tenants who had the security doors installed were in violation of the terms of their lease.

Many of the residents who did so are elderly, and feel unsafe without the protective metal casing outside their front doors.

"I'm hard of hearing, I can't see out of the peephole because I'm too short and it would be impossible for me to open the door without the security door and feel secure," said Marlene Azine, a tenant who has left her security door up.

Azine says managers approved the alteration as long as the doors met certain criteria.

Nevertheless, tenants received eviction notices, and now Azine has filed a lawsuit against the complex.

The judge recognized the dispute as a valid one, and told LaGrande as much.

"I can't imagine that they would go through that expense if they thought they weren't allowed to do it," he said.

Management's position is that if they did allow security doors, tenants would leave their front doors open.

LaGrande says since the complex pays for utilities, it would be an unsustainable financial burden.

Azine filed a temporary restraining order to prevent eviction, which the judge granted to extend another 45 days.

Most of the tenants removed their doors in fear of eviction, but the two that kept theirs appear to be safe for now.

The judge told LaGrande if she evicts the tenants with the doors and is found to be in the wrong later, there will be repercussions.