Former tenants sue Columbia complex over renters insurance problems

Ash Street Place residents claim policies are fraudulent

Former residents sue over renters insurance problem

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Another lawsuit has been filed against Mills Properties, Inc. after an April fire at Ash Street Place Apartments in Columbia.

In the latest suit, filed Monday morning in Boone County, five former tenants allege the complex sold them fraudulent renters insurance when they signed their leases.

Court documents show the property requires coverage of at least $50,000 in personal liability. The former tenants claim their policies cover are liability only, which their attorney says does not qualify as renters insurance by the state's definition.

"The Missouri Department of Insurance defines renters insurance as 'Coverage for the contents of a renter's home or apartment and liability,' said Ashland attorney Matt Uhrig. "The policies sold to our clients by Mills Properties and Assurant were liability only policies that were crafted to protect the landlord and not the renters."

A representative for Mills Properties told ABC 17 News Tuesday it is no unusual for complexes to require renters insurance, but that the company does not sell insurance because it is not a registered agent.

"We do not force anyone to buy from an individual company, we are not the company of record that sells insurance," said Mark Farnen.

Representatives for Assurant said they had not seen the lawsuit as of Tuesday, so it would be premature to comment on it.

Most Columbia apartment complexes told ABC 17 News they did not require renters insurance, but strongly recommended it.

Kelly Enterprises, which owns Kelly's Ridge and Katy Place, said it did require insurance, but did not have a carrier it recommended to tenants. Student apartments The Grove and Aspen Heights also required insurance and did have preferred insurers they recommended to tenants.

Uhrig also represents dozens of plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Mills Properties, arguing that the complex knew about fire alarm problems and asbestos before the April fire.

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