More than 100 Summerset Village tenants filing lawsuit against landlord Chris Henry

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- More than 150 residents of Summerset Apartments in Central Fresno will file a lawsuit against their landlord because of poor living conditions.

During a press conference today, three Fresno lawyers used images of Summerset and of a Bay Area restaurant to illustrate what they say is the paradox of Chris Henry and the properties he owns. They claim Henry uses rent money from Summerset residents to fund other properties he owns like Barrel House Tavern.

The lawyers say tenants will seek the return of rent money and compensation for emotional suffering because the landlord refused to pay for habitable conditions. "We do not have the accountability in Fresno and when you lack that accountability what happens is it creates a breeding ground for these slumlords to prey upon the people of our community," said one of the attorneys, Alexia Kirkland. "And that's how we get this infestation, these nests of slums in our community. And similar to the rats and the roaches contained in the tenants' apartments, that's what Fresno's dealing with when we deal with slumlords. And we have to eradicate them and we have to get them out. And the only way to do that is to hold them legally responsible for what they have caused in our community."

Kirkland says a judge or jury will eventually decide how much money Summerset residents should be awarded if they win the case.

A full copy of their complaint will be made public next week.

A new property management team has taken over at Summerset. They say they'll also renovate all 220 units in the next two months, at a cost of $1 million. Henry will also be responsible for those costs.
Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.