Evicted Tenant PicketsProperty Manager, Alleging Slumlord Practices

Albert Smith pickets outside Southern Vermont Property Management, accusing manager Bob Lyons of being a slumlord and stealing electricity. The dispute stems from Smith's eviction in November over unpaid rent and disagreements over repairs and utilities.

Aqsa Younas Rana
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Evicted Tenant PicketsProperty Manager, Alleging Slumlord Practices

Evicted Tenant PicketsProperty Manager, Alleging Slumlord Practices

Albert Smith has been picketing outside Southern Vermont Property Management in Brattleboro for four consecutive days, accusing the company's manager, Bob Lyons, of being a slumlord, stealing electricity, and breeding bedbugs. Smith's protest comes in response to his eviction in November from apropertyon Western Avenue managed by the company, due to unpaid rent and disputes over repairs and utilities.

Why this matters: This dispute highlights the ongoing struggle between tenants and landlords over living conditions, rent, and responsibilities, which can have significant implications for public health and safety. It also underscores the need for effective regulation and oversight of the rental market to protect the rights of both parties.

Smith's sign, which reads, "Southern Vermont Property Management slumlord steals electricity bedbug breeder," summarizes the allegations he is making against Lyons and the company. Smith claims that upon moving in, the apartment was in worse condition than anticipated. "I moved in, and the place was a little more messy than I had anticipated... I offered to fix some things, took out a stairwell, and made the living area bigger. I also had six broken windows in the apartment, which I asked him to fix. Six months went by, and nothing happened with the windows. I told him I was not going to pay rent until he fixed them. He also put the electricity and utilities — the stairwells and the lighting — on my bill. It felt sleazy," said Smith.

Lyons disputes Smith's account, countering that Smith brought bedbugs into the building, costing the owner significant money to eradicate, and that he owes $4,000 in unpaid rent. "I evicted him because he wouldn't pay his rent and because he brought bedbugs into the building. He owes me $4,000," Lyons stated. "I went out of my way to work with him, and we got along great until something snapped, and he became very belligerent. He then also brought bedbugs into the apartment which cost the owner a lot of money to get rid of. He wouldn't pay his rent so I went to court and had him evicted."

In May 2023, Smith filed a report with the Brattleboro Fire Department listing several complaints about thearticle, including inoperable windows, missing fire extinguishers, structural issues, electrical hazards, and bedbugs. However, the Fire Department was unable to inspect the apartment due to Smith's reported belligerence during their investigation.

Lyons, who has been managing properties in the area for 20 years and currently oversees 50 properties, maintains that this case is an anomaly. "If you talk to my tenants and owners, you'll find I have a very good reputation. This is a rare and special case, and it hurts me to see this," he said. The dispute between Smith and Southern Vermont Property Management highlights the complex issues that can arise between tenants and landlords, particularly when disagreements over rent, repairs, and living conditions escalate into legal action and public protest.