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39 Days After Single Unit Fire, Dozens of Tenants Still Locked Out of Apartment Building

South Madison Avenue tenants say they still have not been allowed inside their units

Published on Monday, January 27, 2020 | 6:20 am
A December 19 fire in one unit of an apartment building at 215 South Madison Avenue resulted in tenants being locked out of the building for almost one month. The tenants appealed to the Pasadena City Council at last Monday night's meeting. Fire response photo by RMG News. Tenants photo by Brian Biery.

Local residents displaced by an apartment fire before Christmas say they still have not been allowed to return to their units even to collect belongings and are now expected to pay Feb. rent despite the lockout.

The blaze broke out in a single unit at their apartment building at 215 South Madison Avenue on Dec. 19. Tenants could not immediately return to their apartments afterwards because officials briefly needed to shut off water and gas to the entire building.

But even after city officials gave the go-ahead for tenants to return the landlord’s property manager barred them, saying the building needed additional testing before it was safe to re-enter.

The property management company said for tenant safety it was necessary to examine the building’s structural integrity after the fire, as well as safety of the air, and to investigate a potential finding of asbestos.

The environmental and engineering reports and remediation work have dragged on.

“Tenants are still expected to pay February rent despite having no access to the property,” said tenant Tia Strozier.

On Saturday, Strozier supplied Pasadena Now with a list of issues and called recent developments on the standoff “negative.”

Strozier said she has not been allowed inside her unit since December, has had no contact with Trilliant Property Management about insurance claims related to the fire and has not received relocation assistance.

Strozier also said her insurance adjusters have not been given access to her unit. No additional details have been made available regarding possible asbestos cleanup at the unit.

” I’ve been waiting for positive updates, but so far it’s not looking good at all,” said a second tenant, Navroj Ravi, who is currently out of the country. “We’ve still not been allowed to access our things. There’s been no response [from] Trilliant regarding rent credit or compensation.”

“No one has been allowed access at all,” said tenant Joshia Blumenkopk. “Personally, I have rented a new apartment, but I don’t have any furniture.”

Earlier this month after Pasadena Now published a story about the fire, a representative of the management company sent a lengthy statement claiming the company is looking out for the tenants and communicating with them daily.

But tenants disputed the claim, alleging that communication has been sporadic and uninformative.

At this point, said Blumenkopf, he has no desire to go back to living there. But he wants access.

“Obviously I want my stuff, because it’s my stuff.”

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