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ONLY ON 3: Apartment tenants upset about conditions during renovations

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Some tenants at a Wilmington apartment complex are not happy. They say recent renovations there made it impossible to live, but managers say they tried to make up for the inconvenience any way they could.

One day in May Kristina Wheeler walked into her apartment to find plastic sheets hung everywhere, her things stuffed into corners and almost no room to walk let alone live.

"My apartment was definitely not living conditions," she said.

So the 22-year-old, who works on WWAY's production staff, left her apartment at Campus Walk on Racine Drive and stayed in a hotel that night.

"And that was probably one of the worst moments of the whole process," Wheeler said.

Campus Walk managers say they gave tenants written notice April 30 that renovations would start May 6. Then for about two weeks the crews worked on the apartments.

"For a whole entire week I had to change my schedule," Wheeler said. "I had to go out to different places. I couldn't really make any food, because it was so crazy here."

Most of the time Wheeler says crews came when she least expected them to. Like when she was in the shower.

"It was extremely, extremely frustrating to have just gotten out of the shower, be in my robe and be getting a knock on my door, and I had no prior knowledge that they were going to be coming and doing any work," she siad.

And even during her interview with WWAY, workers showed up with a dishwasher, even though Wheeler already had one.

So fed up Wheeler says she asked Campus Walk managers to pay her hotel bill and to lower the next month's rent.

"The apartment told me that they would do nothing for me," Wheeler said "I was very upset."

Campus Walk managers did not want to speak on camera, but they say they tried to make the project as painless as possible by providing tenants with plenty of notice, giving them a gym membership, hiring an on-site ambassador to deal with problems, keeping rent the same even after the renovations.

While Wheeler has not made a formal complaint to the North Carolina Attorney General's Office, another tenant did asking the complex to let him out of his lease.

In a letter responding to the complaint, a consumer protection specialist wrote: "Because our office cannot force a company to take a specific action, it does not appear that we can be of any further assistance."

And even though Campus Walk followed North Carolina landlord-tenant law, Wheeler says she does not think it was right to make tenants live as they did.

The Attorney General's Office says tenants like Wheeler can contact Legal Aid North Carolina. If they won't take her case, the AG's office suggests she write up a request for reimbursement.

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