Peppertree Apartment tenants given more time to move out after complex deemed public nuisance

Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 5:35 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The team that manages the Peppertree Apartments in Whitehaven faced a Shelby County judge Monday and shared their side of the story for the first time.

Meanwhile, a judge is giving Peppertree tenants whose leases are set to expire in a matter of days more time to stay in their apartments.

But the judge is leaving a temporary injunction in place, which bans Peppertree from issuing any new leases or renewing leases for current tenants.

The attorney for the management company admits that Peppertree has its problems, but he says things are not as bad as city and county leaders are making it out to seem.

Last week, city and county leaders announced Peppertree Apartments had been deemed a public nuisance after police responded to more than 1,600 calls for help at the complex in the last year and a half.

“It’s ridiculous that this location has been the site of this many calls for service with the Memphis Police Department that it has been the topic of this many conversations among the community,” said Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich.

“The owners of this property must know that we will hold them accountable for the safety of the residents and the nearby residents,” said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.

Peppertree representatives appeared in court Monday to respond to those allegations.

After questions were raised about why the actual owners of the property, a group known as Peppertree Memphis LTD, were not also named in court documents, the judge reset the hearing for Thursday, giving both sides a chance to work it out.

Outside of court, Alexander Wharton, an attorney for TESCO Properties, the company that manages Peppertree Apartments, admits there is room for improvement.

“At no point in time has Peppertree or the property management company ever said that there’s not room for improvement,” said Wharton.

But he pushed back on accusations his clients haven’t been doing enough to keep the apartment complex safe.

“They’re constantly working on things and that’s part of the proof we intend to put forward on Thursday,” said Wharton.

As for those 1,600 calls to police, Wharton says it’s not as many as it seems for a complex with over a thousand tenants.

“When you have repeated calls, when 10 people call about the same incident, that’s a part of that 1,600,” said Wharton. “If the police don’t come and people call again, that’s a part of that 1,600. If we look at what’s happening across the city, it’s not just limited to Peppertree.”

Environmental court judge Patrick Dandridge is keeping the temporary injunction in place but is giving tenants whose leases are up now an extra 30 days before they must move out.

Strickland says the Memphis Housing Authority will work with tenants to help find them affordable housing elsewhere.

This matter will be back in court Thursday.

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