Tenants Sue Leading Chicago Landlord Pangea Properties, Alleging Mold, Squatters and Infestations

Pangea Properties is facing a proposed class action lawsuit after tenants alleged the large Chicago landlord disregarded maintenance and left the south and west side tenants’ units in unsafe condition.

The 14 tenants who joined the lawsuit, filed Monday morning in Cook County Circuit Court, cited roaches, rats, mold, squatters and other health and safety concerns they say the primary landlord did not address Pangea Properties manages more than 7,500 rental units in 423 properties throughout Chicago, making it one of the city’s largest landlords, according to the lawsuit, which is seeking class-action status.

“Pangea Properties exploits its tenants by systematically ignoring maintenance requests to improve their bottom line,” said Christopher Wilmes, an attorney with the Chicago-based law firm Hughes, Socol, Piers, Resnick and Dym, which represents the tenants.

A woman who answered the phone at Pangea Properties declined to comment Monday, and the company did not respond to an email requesting comment.

The 204-page lawsuit details dozens of problems the 14 plaintiffs say they faced in their Pangea Properties homes, including broken elevators, leaking ceilings and no heat in the winter. And when they filed complaints, their landlord failed to address their essential concerns and fail to make their homes safe, the suit alleges.

Pangea Properties charges its low-income tenants fees for routine maintenance and threatens to evict them to silence complaints, the suit alleges. The company also routinely misrepresents units to potential tenants, it alleges.

Kayla Jones, 26, said she moved into a Chatham Pangea Properties unit around May 2021 and problems started immediately when the corporate landlord moved her to a different apartment than the one she visited. She stated that she saw roaches and rat droppings in the unit.

“When I called the property manager, they told me I was the only one complaining about the problem,” Jones said at a new conference call Monday morning outside a Pangea Properties building in south Austin.

She described mice jumping on her stove and microwave and dying on her carpet. She said she called 311 and was told by an operator that the city gets a lot of complaints from the area and advised her to move, she said.

He said the apartment next to his was broken into and there are squatters in his building.

“I really just want Pangea to do better, and I want everyone who deserves it to get their money back,” Jones told the Tribune.

Willie Bradley, another plaintiff, said he found mold in his South Shore Pangea Properties apartment. The corporate owner sent a maintenance worker who sprayed white paint over the growth, said Bradley, a retired home maintenance supervisor. Then the mold grew back worse, he said.

Two years later, a maintenance worker from Pangea Properties came and cut a moldy part of the bedroom wall, Bradley said. The worker taped black plastic bags around the 4-foot cut and left, the suit alleges. Maintenance workers didn’t fix the hole until mid-December despite numerous maintenance requests, he alleges.

The 66-year-old said he has also faced problems with electricity, air conditioning and heating. When you turn on the air conditioner and microwave at the same time, the power goes out, usually for six hours, he added. He has reported electrical problems 17 times in the past five years, the suit alleges.

“Everyone deserves to have a decent place to stay,” he told the Tribune.

Metropolitan Tenant Organizations receive more calls about Pangea Properties than any other management company in Chicago, said Executive Director John Bartlett. Tenants have made hundreds of calls about repairs that haven’t been done, he said.

“They have a history of not maintaining at least some of their properties,” Bartlett said. “They’ve had a lot of people calling.”

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Willie Smith waited for Monday’s news conference to end before entering his Pangea Properties apartment building. But when the 62-year-old heard the loudspeakers, he stopped shopping for him. He asked a lawyer for his number later, because he wants to participate in the lawsuit.

“Elevators suck. Vandalized hallways. On maintenance, my toilet, my doors, my carpet are dirty,” Smith told the Tribune.

You can never pin down the maintenance worker, he said.

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