A month later, wind-damaged apt. still in disrepair

Westchester Woods Apartments, roof, wind damage
A tarp covers wind damage on the roof at Westchester Woods Apartments in Kalamazoo. (April 12, 2017)

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — More than a month after strong winds ripped part of the roof off a Kalamazoo apartment building, one of its residents is frustrated that her unit remains in disrepair.

One of the buildings at Westchester Woods Apartments off of West KL Avenue sustained damage during the wind storm that impacted all of West Michigan on March 8.

The damage rendered some units unlivable, but Karli Mallette, a 23-year-old Western Michigan University student, says she has been forced to stay in her unit despite problems. Water leaks from her ceiling when it rains and she says she’s therefore unable to use her living room. She is also concerned that the ceiling may collapse, which she said has happened in other units.

Mallette wants to be moved to a different unit or be allowed to break her lease but claims she’s not getting help from apartment management.

“It’s bad,” she told 24 Hour News 8 on Wednesday. “I cry often, like on and off, when I really think about it.”

Maintenance staff installed wooden slats on her ceiling in an attempt to protect it from caving in.

“Like putting on a Band-Aid on a stab wound,” Mallette said of the temporary fix. “It’s just not enough.”

Management at Westchester pointed the finger back at Mallette. Owner Andrew Lenczycki accused her of taking advantage of the situation to try to get out of her lease.

“Rather than trying to address it, she’s trying to stir up all this thing in the hopes that I’m just going to go, ‘Yeah, do whatever you want, walk out of your lease,'” a frustrated Lenczycki told 24 Hour News 8. “She’s trying to blow this way out of shape so that she can get out of her lease. That’s the bottom line.”

Lenczycki said he, too, is frustrated by how long it has taken to get repair work started. He said problems involving a roofer who worked on the apartments in the past and insurance claims have slowed the repair process. He declined to release the name of the roofer he is working with now, but said the company has been behind because of jobs elsewhere.

Mallette said she hopes Kalamazoo building inspectors might step in to address her concerns. She said Lenczycki has avoided communicating with her — a claim he denies.

Lenczycki said he plans to discount rent for Mallette and her roommate but that he does not have an open unit for them to move to and won’t let them out of their lease.

Roofers are expected to finally begin repairs Thursday, Lenczycki said, but he doesn’t know how long the repair might take or when Mallette’s unit might be completely fixed.

“I hate living here right now,” Mallette said. “It’s horrible.”

“She’s just trying to stir up as much trouble as she can to be a thorn,” Lenczycki said.