A class-action lawsuit was filed against one of the city’s largest landlords, accusing the company of promoting dangerous conditions that include broken elevators, lack of heat or electricity and rampant rodent infestation.

More than a dozen who signed a lawsuit against Pangea Properties on Monday, complain that their complaints to the property managers have been largely ignored and are now seeking damages for fraudulent and illegal practices.

Kayla Jones, 26, moved to Pangea in 2021 when she moved to the Chatham area from Dallas. They were transferred to another unit at another location after many problems, but the new unit will have more problems, he said.

“There were obvious signs of insect infestation, cockroach and rat droppings, droppings on my carpet, obvious signs of mouse holes in the wall,” Jones said. “When I called the manager of the site to discuss the matter with him, he made it clear that I was the only one who was complaining about the problem.”

Jones said she made several complaints on the company’s website that were listed as complete without anyone coming to look into the problem. He said he made several calls to 311 to report the situation and was advised it would be best for him to leave.

When a caretaker came to check on the situation, he denied seeing any mice. Jones said he was in the kitchen going through the computer and microwave without being disturbed by human presence – others were found dead in the house.

“A person from the company said to me, ‘What are you waiting for?’ You live in the ghetto,’” Jones said of the maintenance worker.

Pangea did not return multiple requests for comment.

Pangea is one of the city’s largest landlords with 423 rental properties that include 7,500 units on the South and West Sides, according to the lawsuit. The property owner also owns more than 13,000 properties in Illinois, Indiana and Maryland and uses hundreds of shell companies to buy or transfer ownership of his properties.

The private landlord is one of the city’s most eviction filers and has taken thousands of families to court since 2009 – the majority of those evicted are black families living on the South and West Side.

The lawsuit does not examine the eviction process, but alleges that the tenants were used by Pangea’s larger group to settle tenant complaints.

“The lawsuit alleges a ‘pay and stay’ practice where Pangea places a person in an eviction court. [tenants] they’re working on trying to get their rent, they’re not being given access to the company,” said Christopher Wilmes, a lawyer representing the tenants.

Wilmes said Pangea “exploits borrowers by systematically ignoring maintenance requests to meet its obligations.” He said the 14 people who filed the lawsuit have been dealing with various health and safety issues including worms, mold, lack of adequate heating in the winter months, flooding, backlog of toilets, squatters and broken elevators.

“The plaintiffs filed this lawsuit to hold Pangea accountable and to say enough is enough,” Wilmes said.

Wilmes believes that this story is common among all groups of Pangea. He encouraged others to contact his law firm to discuss their issues at 312-604-2620.

The lawsuit alleges that Pangea has been in violation of more than 5,000 reported violations in Chicago since 2009 that are consistent with the information cited in the lawsuit.

Willie Bradley, 66, has lived in a Pangea-operated facility for about eight years in the South Shore area and has experienced electrical safety issues, mold and lack of heat.

“When I was in my house in the winter, I felt like I was outside,” says Bradley.

“For many years, the Legal Aid Society has been representing Pangea tenants who live in illegal and illegal situations. It’s time to act,” said Mia Segal, senior attorney for the Health, Housing, and Economic Stability Practice Group of the Legal Aid Society. “Processors in Pangea need healthy, safe, and livable housing for the rent they pay.”

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