Francisco and Esmeralda Diaz have not allowed their children to unwrap the Christmas gifts under the brightly decorated tree in their living room. The parents fear that the youngsters will make noise, disturbing their building’s property manager, who lives downstairs.
The Diazes have lived in Arlington’s Oakland Apartments for 16 months. They say the property manager has complained about hearing Brianna, 4, and Elder, 10, making too much noise in the three-bedroom apartment — and about Elder, who has a severe developmental disability, laughing loudly in the hallway outside the apartment.
The family’s month-to-month lease is being terminated as of Thursday. And although Virginia law does not require the landlord to give a reason, the Diaz parents say they think they are being kicked out because of the property manager’s concerns.
Their situation has drawn the attention of two tenant advocacy groups, who called a news conference with the family on Tuesday to highlight the apparent unwillingness of the property manager to negotiate a compromise.
Both Dennis Jaffe, executive director of Bravo, and Saul Reyes, executive director of Bu-Gata, said they are usually able to work with landlords to resolve complaints about tenants. In this case, they said, their attempts to intervene were unsuccessful.
The property manager, Zuleyka Salazar, declined to discuss the case, the advocates said.
Salazar also refused to answer questions from The Washington Post, saying the company for whom she works, E.G. Reinsch, “holds the privacy of our tenants in the highest priority.” Efforts to reach other officials at E.G. Reinsch, which manages five apartment complexes in Arlington, were unsuccessful.
Elder became disabled at the age of 18 months after he was beaten by a day-care provider and suffered cerebral trauma, his family said. One leg does not move as well as the other, and he has seizures from time to time.
The parents said they do not think Elder or his sister are any noisier than the other children who live in the complex; as far as they know, no one but the property manager has complained. “Everybody here has kids, and they make noise,” Francisco Diaz said through a translator.
Francisco Diaz said that he was late twice with the $1,815 monthly rent, after his pay from a construction job was delayed. He said he caught up as soon as his pay came through and also paid the required penalties. Esmeralda Diaz works as a tortilla maker five nights a week.
The tenant advocates said the Diazes have not received a reference from the property manager, despite requesting one so they can rent an apartment elsewhere.