(Host) The sudden closing of a central Vermont property management company has triggered an investigation by local police and the FBI.
It’s also created concern on the part of area tenants and landlords who did business with the company.
Today, officials held a public meeting to try to answer questions, and reassure tenants that they won’t lose essential services in the middle of winter.
VPR’s Steve Zind reports.
(Zind) Chris Colontone has always sent her rent check to Parkside Property Management, not to the owner of her apartment.
If she had a question or problem, she’d call Parkside.
But this week she learned the company has suddenly closed down – and she’s worried.
(Colontone) "I need to know whether I’m still going to have an apartment to live in."
(Zind) Unlike Colontone, Marilyn Cooley and her husband pay their rent directly to the landlord, but they paid a hefty deposit to Parkside when they first moved into their Barre Home.
(Cooley) "We put a sizeable security deposit down at Parkside when we moved in their last year and I’m concerned about where it is and if we’re going to get it back."
(Zind) It’s not clear if the Cooley’s will ever get their money back. They were among those who came to Friday’s meeting with representatives of social service agencies and city officials from Barre and Montpelier.
(Official) "At this point this morning we probably are going to have more questions than we have answers. I think what we need to do is we need to find out what properties are affected and, as the mayor said, exactly who is affected…"
(Zind) Officials say so far they’ve heard from more than a dozen landlords who own about 100 central Vermont rental properties managed by Parkside. There could be many more, and the collapse of the company could affect hundreds of central Vermont renters who paid their rent to Parkside or counted on the company to maintain their apartments and, in some cases, pay for utilities, trash and snow removal and other services.
Renters aren’t the only ones affected. Landlords say they could lose rent Parkside collected on their behalf. Charles Baldwin says his sister in law owns properties managed by the company.
(Baldwin) "And she’s out three months of rent, so she had that concern about her Barre property taxes coming up in two weeks."
(Zind) Baldwin wants to know if the city of Barre could extend the property tax deadline for landlords who may have lost rent money to Parkside – a question Barre’s mayor promised to look into. Baldwin says when he checked on two of his sister in law’s properties managed by Parkside, he found they were nearly out of fuel oil.
Officials say they’re taking steps to make sure no one loses essential services because Parkside has failed to pay its bills.
Local police and the FBI have launched a criminal investigation into the company. On Thursday, acting on search warrants, they seized the company’s files.
Montpelier Police Chief Anthony Facos says authorities are in touch with one of two Parkside officers who were named in the warrants.
(Facos) "No arrests have been made at this time. It’s under investigation. It’s all I’m going to say at this time."
(Zind) Facos says there are indications Parkside also managed properties in New Hampshire.
For VPR news, I’m Steve Zind in Montpelier.