Tenants Take Action After City and Management Fail to Address Rising Health Code Violations at Red Oak Apartments

Tenants continue to expose the rise of dangerous maintenance issues during one of the most historic heatwaves. As problems from mold to lack of central air conditioning arise, the Chamberlayne Tenants Council says: Enough!

Statement from Members of the Chamberlayne Tenants Council:

Richmond, VA–Amid record-breaking heat, tenants are left in sweltering conditions alongside the egregious acts of negligence by Red Oak and Ginter Park LLC. These issues have only grown more acute as the temperature rises. With obscenely high water bills, poorly ventilated units, and black mold, tenants at Red Oak are now also facing the harsh reality that Ginter Park LLC refuses to fix their central A/C units, often providing no more than leaky, derelict window units that make the proper cooling of homes impossible. 

Months after city inspectors visited Red Oak buildings and weeks after management addressed code violations to comply with the city of Richmond, issues from mold to lack of proper central air have only become exacerbated in one of the hottest months in recent history. While deemed “safe” by the city’s standards, dozens of buildings owned by Ginter Park LLC continue to face neglect, and tenants remain unclear on the repairs that Management addressed. 

The Chamberlayne Tenants Council organized a fan distribution to directly respond to the hazardous temperatures tenants are made to live in. Nearly 50 fans have been given through this tenant-led initiative to alleviate what tenants have been experiencing in their homes. However, other issues concerning mold, electrical problems, and spikes in water bills require tenants to keep the collective pressure on Red Oak management to provide professional maintenance. 

While some Red Oak tenants have seen city inspectors frequent the property more and have seen increased activity around maintenance, these surface-level repairs and small gains have been primarily due to the collective power and pressure from tenants, the community, and the media. Until living conditions improve, tenants continue building power to protect one another from absentee landlords taking their money every month. CTC will hold a rally on Labor Day, demanding Ginter Park LLC do what tenants pay them to do: provide safe and adequate living conditions. Red Oak tenants call for community support to keep tenant conditions in the spotlight and the pressure strong until their demands are met. CTC calls for fellow workers and community members to show their support at the rally on September 4th. The outcome of this rally can set a precedent for tenant rights, combating unsafe living conditions, and the rising cost of in Richmond. Anyone who believes in the people’s right to live with dignity is encouraged to come and show their support. 


The Chamberlayne Tenants Council, an affiliate of Richmond Tenants Union, is an autonomous tenant council made of tenants and neighbors in the Chamberlayne Avenue area. They work with a network of tenant councils to form the backbone of a broad front to fight for housing justice in the face of crises of debt, low wages, and high rent.

The Richmond Tenants’ Defense Council (RTDC) is an independent alliance of tenants and community partners who are building power to fight for the interests of working-class renters in our city. We are organizing all over the city to defend ourselves from the unfair business practices and appalling conditions that private property management companies and landlords expect us to simply accept. We believe that the more tenants get organized across the city and support each other, the more we can defend ourselves.

Red Oak Update June 2023: Our Response to City Inspections, so-called repairs, and media coverage

A quick update on our campaign to empower our neighbors at Red Oak to fight back against inhumane living conditions imposed upon them from their out-of-state landlord: 

We’re making progress! It’s slower progress than our neighbors deserve and Red Oak is still dragging their feet, but it’s clear that Ginter Park LLC responds to collective people power in ways that they don’t feel obligated to respond to individual complaints and maintenance requests. We put out a press release three weeks ago, and we are certain that owner-profiteer  Elliot Bialostozy is feeling the increased pressure from tenants, the community, and media. Good. He may have a little more pressure, as a treat.

We are seeing some small gains in response to the pressure of people power: maintenance has replaced mailboxes and doors, city inspectors have increased activity, and we’ve also received a verbal commitment from Red Oak to open their office on certain specific days after tenant complaints of intentional inaccessibility.

Last month, city inspectors visited the apartments after repeated pressure from tenants and they issued three code violations including structural issues, at one of the many buildings where issues persist. Two weeks ago, those specific violations were supposedly addressed to be in compliance with the City, though it isn’t clear what repairs were actually done.  According to a resident we spoke with after the news article the city inspectors only requested that repairs be made to the exterior of the building.  A tenant shared with us that she recently saw the owner giving instructions to maintenance workers on what he thought needed to be fixed. The building’s broken mailboxes have not been addressed to date as they are still broken. According to tenants, neither the owner nor the city inspectors actually went into any apartments to assess or address living conditions.

Much like Elliot Bialostozy’s maintenance instructions and the city inspectors’ inspections the media coverage so far has been mostly concerned with the face rather than the heart of the matter. Raising awareness about surface-level concerns is a great first step but the work is far from over. The one building in question still has pest control issues, irrational and unaccountable water usage billing, broken mailboxes, and various smaller neglected maintenance issues that don’t rise to the level of city code violations. There are dozens of buildings owned by this company and each of them still have issues interfering with the health, safety, and dignity of our neighbors, the tenants of Red Oak. 

We spoke to a disabled, elderly Red Oak tenant whose kitchen hood vent has been broken for several months. This prevents him from cooking meals without worrying about smoke and vapors exacerbating his COPD, and potentially triggering a hospital visit where COVID still rages on. 

Living conditions are still unacceptable, and we intend to continue building power among the people to oppose and overcome these barriers to a dignified life. We draw lessons from practice and successful tenant rights campaigns and movements across the country including RTU, Brooklyn Eviction Defense, and the Autonomous Tenants Union Network. 

We call for you, fellow workers and members of the community, to show your support at the Chamberlayne Tenants Council meetings. Join us as we come together to protect and empower each other. Reach out to us via email or on social media for more information on how to show solidarity with Red Oak Tenants!

Important Update: Press Release 5.30.23

Tenants Call for Response to Increasing Negligence from Red Oak

Tenant council members have yet to see the Red Oak rental office and Ginter Park LLC take concerns seriously, as tenants continue to expose dangerous maintenance issues as a result of neglect from Management. 

Statement from Members of the Chamberlayne Tenants Council:  

Richmond, VA– After years of meeting with tenants and reaching out to Red Oak Management on the growing amount of unaddressed maintenance issues, Ginter Park LLC have yet to respond or take action on the tenants’ concerns and the conditions they are being made to live in. 

“We have heard and seen dozens of horror stories of the unlivable conditions they are being made to live in, from black mold to security and structural issues. They are absolutely very quick to act when it comes to collecting unpaid rent, towing tenant’s cars, and raising rent and water usage costs. Within days tenants can expect to receive an envelope on their doors for all their neighbors to see. This only makes it clear they do not prioritize tenant concerns unless it involves collecting a check.”

A letter co-written by tenants was sent last December to Ginter Park LLC, the company that owns the dozens of apartment buildings along Chamberlayne Avenue. The letter   identified several specific issues that were asked to be rectified immediately from pest control to issuing parking passes. Since January and even before, several attempts by Chamberlayne Tenants Council, Richmond Tenants Defense Council, Richmond Tenants Union, tenants, and local news outlets have been made to reach anyone on the phone or by letter with Red Oak/Ginter Park.

“The Red Oak leasing office continues to be difficult to contact and slow to act and the issues tenants are being forced to live in are only growing more dangerous. The lack of professionalism and outright disrespect for hardworking people only proves that Red Oak/Ginter Park management is not taking these problems seriously.” 


On January 13th, Red Oak tenants up and down Chamberlayne participated in a call-in day to make sure their demands were being heard at the Red Oak rental office. A source revealed that Elliot Bialostozy, owner of Ginter Park LLC and Red Oak Apartments, was aware of the phone zap and purposely took leasing office workers out for lunch to ensure that no one would be available to respond to maintenance requests. After the organized phone zap, tenants were encouraged to share their experience living at Red Oak by leaving a review on their website. Tenants have been working to get in contact with Red Oak management and ownership since before the pandemic. Scathing reviews can be found from over two years ago that still echo what tenants are dealing with today. 

“Ain’t nobody ever been in the office long enough for us to actually get to know them, to establish any type of relationship to respect. The way I feel about it is the people in that office don’t give a fuck about us. We are a paycheck to them and barely that because the majority of them avoid even dealing with us and still get paid. They don’t answer the phones, they don’t respond to emails, they don’t return calls. They don’t do anything. I’m trying to figure out how you operate as a business, not dealing with the individuals that are supposedly keeping you afloat?”

“This is the worst managed situation I have ever been a part of. I mean, you call, they don’t answer. You call again. They have an electronic system. They tell you a list of options. You leave a message, they don’t answer. I went to the office, filled out one of those request slips, and placed it in the box. No response.”

Stories like those of the tenants we have interviewed can be found up and down Chamberlayne. 

The Chamberlayne Tenants Council, an affiliate of Richmond Tenants Union, is an autonomous tenant council made of tenants and neighbors in the Chamberlayne Avenue area. They work with a network of tenant councils to form the backbone of a broad front to fight for housing justice in the face of the crises of debt, low wages, and high rent.

Important Update: Phone Zap 1.13.23

Join RTDC Friday January 13th for our Red Oak Phone Zap. Call and leave a voicemail or send a text expressing your solidarity with Red Oak’s demands 9-11 AM or 230-430 PM. For voicemails please call 804-329-6249. Dial *67 before you enter the number to protect your anonymity. For those sending text messages the best number to text is 203-309-0754.

Whether texting or calling if you need help with what to say here is a script:

Hi, I’m calling in support of tenants at Red Oak Apartments. These tenants have demanded that you take action! The ridiculous water bills, being charged for nonexistent pest control, and lack of proper heating in many of the residences. These are reasonable demands. Red Oak has not responded in writing as og January 2nd, the dealine which tenants have set for you. Does Red Oak intent to fix these problems.

If you are a tenant at Red Oak you DO NOT have to say your name or unit number.

If you would like to read the letter sent to Ginter Park LLC on behalf of tenants visit this link here.

An Open Letter to Red Oak Apartments/Ginter Park LLC

Dear Red Oak Apartments,

This letter is written by the Richmond Tenants’ Defense Council, on behalf of the tenants of Red Oak Apartments. Residents have identified a number of reasonable demands that can be quickly rectified by Red Oak.

The following concerns must be addressed immediately:

1. Water

Tenants have received water bills for absurd amounts of money– even hundreds of dollars– with no accurate information concerning how those bills were calculated. Tenants who request individual water meters must have them installed. Red Oak must provide tenants with detailed accounts of how their previous water bills were calculated, including copies of original bills from the City of Richmond. Tenants demand an end to service fees to third party companies like Conservice.

2. Pests

Tenants have been charged as much as one-hundred dollars for failing to move all of their appliances and furniture away from their walls in advance of visits by pest control. Red Oak must immediately cease to charge penalties for pest abatement issues. Tenants must be provided with electronic pest abatement devices free of cost.

3. Parking

Tenants at several buildings have identified that signs warning of towing are out of date and no longer reflect the towing policy in their leases. All signage regarding towing must be current, and all changes must be clearly communicated to tenants. Tenants must be provided with a parking pass and a guest pass.

4. Heat

Many tenants report that their heat is not functioning, and requests for maintenance are not being responded to in a

timely manner. Heating units must be fixed as soon as possible, and tenants must be provided with space heaters in good condition until repairs are complete.

We expect to receive a response from you detailing a timeline for addressing the concerns mentioned in this letter, in writing at the above PO Box, no later than January 2, 2023.

Richmond Tenants’ Defense Council

Building Community, Building Power

The Richmond Tenants Defense Council is an organization in the Richmond area which brings together working-class tenants and community members to build power.  The following interview is a conversation between two founding members of RTDC about the organization’s history and its future.  It was originally printed in the first issue of RTDC’s tenant newsletter.

In January we did an interview with the Virginia Worker. For the full transcript visit:

Click here to read the transcript!

An Open Letter to KRS Holdings Property Management Company

pdf of our open letter to KRS

Dear KRS Holdings,

Over the past three months, tenants at Sherwood and Wynwood Apartments came together to discuss their concerns with conditions in their communities, the properties you manage. They identified specific, low-cost solutions to their problems, and they brought their collective suggestions to you. Yet for the last three months, with one meager exception, you could not be bothered to acknowledge their concerns, let alone act to alleviate their hardship. 

On July 25th, August 6th, and September 14th, the concerns of tenants at Sherwood Apartments were sent to you in letters asking that you issue two visitor parking passes to each unit, replace light bulbs in the outdoor lights, and fix the exterior door to the building (the lock has simply been removed making tenants feel unsafe in their own hallways). On September 21st, the issues raised by residents of Wynwood Apartments were written down and mailed to you in a letter asking for the return of marked visitor parking spots, limitation of towing hours to midnight through 6:00am, effective abatement of pests, and repair of failing floors. On September 29th, we sent a letter highlighting an issue that a tenant at Wynwood Apartments had already brought to you herself. This tenant has spotted 40 mice in her apartment since February, experienced emotional distress documented by her social worker due to living in a building infested with mice, and lost access to a bedroom due to the stench of mouse urine and feces. (The tally has since reached 50 mice.)

While we are pleased to see that outdoor lighting at Sherwood Apartments has improved, the other issues remain unresolved. When we initially contacted you about towing issues you claimed that the parking lot is not big enough to accommodate visitors. We not only provided you with references to the City Zoning Ordinance demonstrating that by the City’s own standards, you have plenty of surplus parking but also did the work of mapping out the parking lot using city GIS data and current parking standards to demonstrate the carrying capacity of the parking lot. As of today you have ignored the front door issue and we are still waiting for a timeline on when tenants can expect those repairs to be carried out.

We recently received a document which appears to be your response to the letter we wrote on behalf of tenants at Wynwood Apartments. (We have not received a response to any of the other letters mentioned above.) 

In your response, you stated that the towing process is “designed to improve the safety of the residents.” One Wynwood tenant shared that his car was towed one day after his tags passed their renewal date. At Sherwood Apartments, a home health aide was towed while providing health services to a tenant. These are only two examples among many. While these practices clearly serve the towing company’s bottom line, it is less clear how this practice serves the safety of tenants. The same applies to your decision to remove visitor parking spaces and refusal to limit towing hours. Your tenants often describe feeling extremely isolated, afraid to have friends, family, or service providers visit due to the excessively aggressive towing practices at your buildings. How does this “improve the safety” of your tenants?

You also explain that “some technologies… should be able to validate violations,” though you have given us no indication what these supposed”technologies” are or how they address your tenants’ concerns. To be clear, residents are asking for two simple things – the restoration of visitor parking and the limitation of towing hours – in order to prevent their visitors from getting towed in the first place. This can be achieved at low cost and without any special “technologies”.

Regarding pests, you explain that “a licensed pest control company … services the property on a weekly basis,” and the tenant portal enables you to monitor pest control response times. Please note that in our letter, tenants demanded “the effective abatement of pests”. The issue is not how many times a licensed pest control company services the property, but the effectiveness of the service provided.

Regarding dangerously weak floors and stairs, you asked for “specific feedback” and say that you “have not received this feedback from residents…” The instability of many stairs and floors in the common spaces at Wynwood are apparent to anyone who walks on them, so it is telling that you are unaware of which stairs tenants are referring to. It is also notable that this issue, which tenants were eager to discuss among themselves, has apparently not been reported to you. The fact that KRS routinely responds so slowly and inadequately to maintenance requests (example) obviously disincentivizes reporting on maintenance issues because tenants rightly assume that at best they’ll wait long periods for nothing more than a band aid solution. 

You encourage tenants to stop by the office for resolution of towing and pest control issues. The tenant with 50+ mice in her apartment brought her issue to the office over and over again for months, and the tenant whose car was towed for barely expired tags stopped by the office with “concerns about a specific incident,” yet these issues were not solved. Substantial change to towing, visitor parking, and pest control, not a few more trips to the office, are needed to address tenant concerns.

To reiterate: Sherwood Apartments still needs a secure entry and two visitor parking passes per unit. Wynwood Apartments still needs the restoration of visitor parking, limited towing hours, effective abatement of pests, and floor repair. The Wynwood resident with a rodent infestation needs immediate relief, habitable accommodations, and compensation for property damaged by the mice.

We expect KRS to promptly respond in writing to RTDC and, most importantly, take immediate action to meet these demands. Failure to do so will result in further action. 


Richmond Tenants’ Defense Council

Stuart Court Apartments

If you’ve been following local news recently, you may have heard about the abysmal conditions in Stuart Court Apartments (managed by Landmark Property Management). If not, check out this feature on ABC 8News. As one resident interviewed for the story put it, “[Landmark] just seems like they are very cheap, they just want to do things the cheap way.” While Landmark declined an interview, they were quick to point out that the “buildings are 100-years-old” and “[are] hard to stay on top of it.”

Several tenants we have spoken with indicated that the leasing office often mentions the age of the building and cost of repairs when tenants lodge complaints. It almost makes you wonder if Landmark Property Management could have invested some of the $98.1 million it recently used to purchase 16 apartment complexes in western Henrico county into fixing up the building…

It goes without saying that we find the conditions at Stuart Court absolutely unacceptable. In addition to the building code violation mentioned in the article, the majority of tenants we have spoken to have had a serious maintenance issue. These complaints included water damage, mold, pests, broken radiators, collapsing ceilings… you name it. Despite their statements to the contrary, the evidence is clear: Landmark doesn’t care about Stuart Court – “they just want to do things the cheap way.” Richmond tenants deserve better.

Water damage ‘repairs’ at various Stuart Court apartments


Welcome to the Richmond Tenants’ Defense Council news page! While we have been busy organizing for much of the past year, we are only now getting around to posting about some of our actions. Our goal for this page is to keep you informed about recent developments in our campaigns. We also plan to post news stories about issues affecting tenants here in Virginia and elsewhere across the US.

Here is some quick background on one of our campaigns.

On Friday, August 16, 2019, RTDC issued a certified mail letter to a local property management company with a well-documented history of serious maintenance issues and tenants rights violations. We received a response from the company that was postmarked on the final day of the deadline we set. In their response, the property management company effectively denied any knowledge or responsibility for the issues cited in our letter. However, they did send a maintenance person shortly afterwards to fix one of the problems we raised. After nearly six months and multiple complaints from individual tenants, the second floor of the apartment building has lights in its hallways again!

We are happy to claim this as a partial victory, but there are more serious complaints in our letter that still need to be addressed. After a series of conversations, we have decided to continue the campaign until the property manager and owner address their unreasonable and excessive towing policies.

There is no reason tenants should have to worry about whether their in-home health aides will be towed while they are providing necessary medical services. Moreover, it is completely unacceptable that tenants should feel anxious to invite their friends and family to visit for a few hours. These are working peoples’ homes!

Many apartments with dedicated parking areas in the city restrict towing to specific hours and issue at least one short-term guest parking hang tag to their tenants. This is an easy solution that could be cheaply implemented, so it’s even more shameful that we have to fight so hard for them. But here we are…

We will post more updates on this campaign as they happen. Stay tuned for more!