My home was destroyed by the Good Friday tornado that hit St. Louis. I had to move into a motel until I could find a more permanent solution. I work at home, so I needed suitable live/work space.
In May I responded to an ad on Craigslist posted by Amy Levin of Helix Reality, (their address is 5340 Delmar #104, St. Louis, MO 63112). The ad was for live/work office suite, furnished, all utilities included. I had to move in rather abruptly because of my circumstance, although there were things that still needed to be done, such as bringing in a stove, cleaning the carpet, all things I was told would be done while returned to the motel to pack and check out.
When I returned, none of those things were done. Nor did Helix produce a lease or rental agreement at that time, I was told they would later. At that time I was anxious to get situated, so I took them for their word and until this day Helix never produced an agreement. I did not have a stove a little over a month.
The first 2 months I noticed I stopped receiving any mail. I work at home and receive payments by mail. I complained to the office and was told they would look into it. Weeks went by, still no mail, then one day I discovered a notice in my mailbox to suspend mail service. I inquired about the notice in the office and was told the regular mail carrier was back and she knew no one was supposed to be in my unit. This seemed odd to me, considering I had been there months, had received mail from FEMA and SBA even my Sprint bill, then nothing. The male receptionist working in the office assured me the situation would be resolved.
Not receiving mail for 2 months caused a domino effect: I wasnt receiving payments, contracts were being returned to sender and I wasnt receiving bills. One day I went to check my mail and noticed a new sticker with my name, meaning people in the office had been in my mailbox.
During this same time Helix started renovating. I occuply the largest unit on the first floor where offices are. Offices are on the first floor, apartments are on the top floors. I have the largest office unit, a unit that could fetch 2x what Im paying which is why Helix wants me out and have been harassing me for the past couple of month.
I always paid on the 1st of the month, I was never late until the situation with my mail which had begun affecting my business. It took a little for a month for me to get everything sorted out, I kept Helix in the know, having no idea this that everything Im about do describe was a series of calculated moves by Helix to get me to move.
When I went to pay Helix, everthing took a turn for the worst. They rejected payment and instead left a notice on my door stating I was occupying my unit illegally and they would be there on October 5, 2011 with the police and movers to physically remove me and my belongings. Needless to say things went sour. I became a prisoner, I couldnt leave because I didnt know if they were crazy enough to remove my belogings if I left.
I was advised to notify the office in writing that although I didnt have a lease, I did have rights and they could not simply have me removed, there was a legal process .
I also instructed Helix since they rejected payment, I was moving. A day or so later I received a cut out of an invoice (literally a cut out, like of a page that had been cut out with scissors) stuffed in an envelope with someone elses complete invoice.
I emailed the office and reminded them they rejected payment , threatened to have me physicially removed so I had no alternative but to use those funds to find another place to work/live.
A week later I received a letter from their attorney demanding payment and instructing me to make arrangements with Helix. The letter also stated to reply if I disputed their claim. I replied then waited for further instructions, I received nonewhich brings me to where we are today.
In the afternoon on Friday October 21, 2011 I was cooking dinner when Helix shut off my electricity. I called the office and was told they had Ameren come out and disconnect services and that if I wanted services I would have to call Ameren. I knew this was not legal, so I called the police. When the police arrived Amy Levin introduced herself as an attorney and told the officers we were having a landlord/tenant dispute, that she had ameren shut off my utilities (denying utilities were included) and if I wanted servicing I should call Ameren. She also told them that the note posted on my door threatening to remove me was not for me, despite the fact it clearly had my suite # on it. She then informed the officers that one of her employees son was a St. Louis City police officer.
She also stated she started eviction proceedings (despite the fact I told her I was moving then they rejected payment). The officers said it was a civil matter , there was nothing they could do, then left. At that time I contacted Ameren who told me they HAD NOT received a call to disconnect services and if I didnt have power its because Helix it down from the circuit box. I was also told the issue wasnt putting the service in my name because even if I did I still wouldnt have power because it was shut down from the circuit box.
I called the police again and the same officers responded . I told them what Ameren said. The police had me call Amerem so they could verify what I was told. The officers were not pleased when they learned Amy Levin, (an attorney) lied to them and had me to contact Helix. The office was closed so I contacted Michelle the other receptionist on her cell. When she heard my voice she repeated the same thing Amy said earlier, they had Ameren come and disconnect the service and on Monday (today) they would be returning to remove the meter. Little did she know she wasnt talking to me anymore, she was talking to the police. Once she realized that and the fact we spoke to Ameren, she asked the officer to contact Amy Levin the owner and gave the officer her cellphone number.
We could not reach Amy, Michelle must have called her because she showed up 10-15 minutes later. The officers contronted her with her lies and had her restore my power. When she restored power she lied to the police again stating I must have blown a fuse, forgetting she first told them Ameren disconnected the service.
Once I had power restored, I asked the officer if he would be willing to testify on my behalf if it came to that and he said yes, gave me his cellphone number and instructed me to contact him if I had any other problems.
Hours later I went to heat up the dinner that I had been cooking when all of this started and noticed Helix also disconnected my gas and heat. I contacted the officer who assisted me with getting them to restore my electricity on his cellphone and was instructed to go through the same process, contact Laclede Gas and if they said they didnt disconnect the service to call the police.
When I contacted Laclede not only did they say they didnt disconnect service, they said they dont even service this building. I asked if there was another gas company and they said no, Laclede was the only servicing option and since they had no record of servicing this building they were going to launch an investigation to see how Amy Levin/Helix were supplying gas to tenants.
When I got off the phone with Laclede I called the police but there was nothing they could do because Amy Levin wasnt in the office. They did speak with the male receptionist who told them I wasnt allowed in the office, Amys reaction to getting caught lying to the police and them having her turn the power back on.
As of now I still dont have gas or heat. Im afraid they will shut my electricity off again. Attorney Amy Levin and Helix Realty continue to thumb their nose at the law. I am a prisoner in my unit they have cameras on the first floor and they can see my comings and goings. I have no doubt they will enter my unit and remove my belongings exactly in in the manner they described in the notice they left on my door.
I have documentation of everything and can provide taped converations of Amy Levin admitting Helix pays for the utilities, admitting shutting my service off and lying about Ameren, Ameren stating they never disconnected my service and Laclede stating they dont service this building. I also have emails detailing how we got to this point. Helix has security tape which will show them disconnecting my services. I can also put you in touch with the police officer who said he would testify on my behalf against Amy Levin and Helix Realty.
Amy Levin is an attorney, her job is to uphold the law, not break it and definitely not to lie to the police. She initiate eviction after refusing payment and after her attempt at an illegal eviction failed. She had the maintenance men disconnect my utilities after she initiated proceedings as a way to force me out. The only mail I have received since they starting interferring with my mail is that letter from their attorney.
I have lost food from my power being disconnected. I have no heat or gas to cook. The harrassment has interferred with my work and now Im a prisoner. There is much more, much much more.
I am writing this to expose the illegal practices of Attorney Amy Levin and Helix Realty, once the word gets out Im sure other victims will come forward. This has been a nightmare. I cant work effectively like this. I have no heat, I cant cook. I had to throw away spoiled food. The situation is stressful to say the least.
There newest form of harassment stems from notification of my complaint from the Better Busines Bureau. My apt sits on top of the utility room. When they get ready to leave for the day they turn on music in the utility room and blast music from 5 pm until 9am when they return. I called the police at 4am last night, they contacted Amy Levin but she wouldn't answer her phone.
Im sure Im not their first victim, but with your assitance I can be their last.