Illegal eviction claimed after armed guards oust motel residents

Problem Solvers

AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — Attorneys representing at least 10 former residents of the Summit View Inn on East Colfax Avenue say armed private security guards told the residents to move out immediately without prior notice and with little time to gather their belongings.

According to the attorneys, who are suing over the Oct. 2 eviction, many of the people impacted did not have time to collect passports, other forms of identification, prescription medication or other personal items.

The lawsuit claims the property owner violated state renters rights laws.

“You have to file a suit, go to court, get an order from a judge and then only the sheriff is allowed to execute that order,” attorney Carey Degenaro of the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project told FOX31.

The displaced residents are being advised not to speak to the media while the case is pending. The COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project and nonprofit 9to5 Colorado filed the lawsuit against the inn’s company, VareCo.

The FOX31 Problem Solvers asked the company for a response but did not receive a comment.

Under a new state law, the landlord could face a fine of $5,000 per tenant and payment for damages. More tenants may join the lawsuit, the attorneys said.

A temporary injunction is in place, so it could take months before a decision in the case is made.

‘I’ve been where they’re at’

Ann Balderrama is especially heartbroken about the evictions. She was once homeless and now runs the low-cost Lazy C Motor Lodge on Colfax Avenue.

“I’ve been where they’re at,” Balderrama said.

Her hope is that the ousted residents will have a place to go, especially with cold weather approaching.

“I just wish I could take them all in and I can’t,” she said. 

Brendan Greene, a co-founder of the East Colfax Community Collective, operates an emergency eviction text line and was the first to receive notice of the evictions.

“We should never accept that a landlord could hire private armed security guards to remove people,” he said.

The organization is working to help displaced residents.

“We are standing with our neighbors and our friends,” he said. 

To learn more about the emergency eviction text line and ways to donate to help displaced residents visit the East Colfax Community Collective.

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