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BBB gives River City Real Estate an ‘F’

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – An investigation has turned up new information about the apartment building in South Richmond where a double murder took place in April.

Erasnus Benjamin is moving out because he said he does not feel safe. Benjamin said the murder was the last straw for him and that after two years at the Tobacco Factory Lofts, he is not renewing his lease.

And he'll tell you, he's been dealing with one problem after another. 

“Urine, dog feces, trash in the hallways, leaky roof, air-conditioning not working, the windows don't open up,” said Benjamin.

Benjamin tells CBS 6 News he complained to management about what he calls unsafe conditions inside this South Richmond apartment building.

And it appears Benjamin is not alone.

CBS 6 News obtained documents from the City of Richmond listing a number of code violations.  Violations that range from roof and drainage issues to infestations to unlawful accumulations of trash and electrical hazards. 

Residents of Tobacco Factory Lofts told CBS 6 News’ Sandra Jones that they pay their rent to River City Real Estate.

A Google search of Tobacco Factory Lofts, however, shows they are managed by Historic Property Management Inc. 

People in the Historic Properties Management Inc. office told us they are now managing River City Real Estate.

CBS 6 News checked in with the Better Business Bureau, which gave River City Real Estate an F-rating.

"We’ve received a good number of complaints they haven’t been resolved.  The company hasn’t responded to them.  They’ve indicated to us, they don’t’ choose to communicate with the Better Business Bureau,” said Tom Gallagher, a BBB spokesperson.

Gallagher said that puts the BBB in a difficult position with the public.

“They want to know can they safely do business with this company,” said Gallagher.  "If they have a problem can they turn to us for help and assistance.  Well, the answer right now is certainly no.”

Gallagher said that it is a long and tedious process to get out of a lease agreement. That's why he suggests doing your homework first, before you sign on the dotted line.

“Go online to check that company’s report,” said Gallagher. “Go and walk around and ask the tenants who live in that place what’s your experience been because everybody is going to have problems.  We know that and that’s a volatile situation.  And we know that it’s not always the company’s fault.”

However, Erasnus Benjamin believes management at Tobacco Factory Lofts can do more to keep its tenants around.

“I would hope that…they would know to keep that up…being that you got people living here,” said Benjamin. “And they’re spending their money here every month.”

Mike Wallace, a Richmond City spokesperson, said that complaints were lodged to the city by residents of Tobacco Factory Lofts between October of 2011 to February of this year —and that citations were issued.

However, Wallace said those problems have been corrected. Still, some residents said they see the same problems in the building.

CBS 6 News has made repeated phone calls to River City Real Estate for comment --  but no one has returned our phone calls.