JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After the I-TEAM reported about complaints about poor living conditions at an Arlington apartment complex, contractors told News4JAX payment from the management company that oversees that complex and six others in Jacksonville has lagged or not come at all.
A local security contractor tells the I-TEAM it was forced to close after the company failed to pay them more than $200,000 for work they had done.
“I think every day that a security agency closes, the community is less safe,” said Sean Saunders, who was the chief operating office of Excelsior Security Agency before it went out of business.
Houston, Texas-based Karya Property Management, or KPM, boasts a portfolio of more than 15,000 units in several states, including seven Jacksonville apartment complexes including 2,2204 units they acquired in January.
Until September, Excelsior Security Agency provided services at their properties in Jacksonville and Orlando, but now, they’ve filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
“We have 40% of our clients, which happen to also be some of our largest clients, that are either late in paying, pay only partial payments, or have not paid at all — one of which is Karya [Property] Management,” Saunders said.
He said KPM owes the most — about $220,000.
“We serviced them for over seven months with patrol services and we also sent them down a specialized team of officers to help them clean up their properties due to such a high crime rate,” Saunders said.
Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office records show calls for service at some of the KPM-managed complexes. From 2021 to October of this year, the records show, there have been at least more than 1,100 calls for service at the Shore House Apartments and more than 1,200 at the Boat House Apartments, while otters like Stardust and La Palma have had a few dozen calls during that time period.
Saunders said they emailed KPM several times a week asking for payment.
He provided the I-TEAM emails they sent to KPM with invoices attached, including the announcement they were suspending security services at KPM properties in September.
He told the I-TEAM they don’t have the money to continue services and had to let go of 85 employees last month.
“I’m not sad for the business,” Saunders said. “I’m sad for the officers.”
“Our officers responded to everything from noise complaints to dead bodies and everything in between,” he said. “We stood side by side with our law enforcement partners.”
In a statement to the I-TEAM, a spokesperson said “KPM Property Management successfully works with thousands of vendors across its national properties, having longstanding contracts and relationships with many of them.” They go on to say on-site property teams are empowered to lead the sourcing, contracting and management of vendors.
After residents at KPM-managed San Remo Apartments turned to the I-TEAM about poor conditions, a refinishing contractor at three other KPM Jacksonville properties turned to the I-TEAM about lagging payment.
Fabiola Archila is the operations manager at Tobby Tubs Refinishing. She said it’s a small, family-run business based in Miami.
She said, in September, KPM owed more than $43,000 for work they did through April, showing the I-TEAM invoices and emails to KPM asking for payment.
“That’s somebody’s yearly salary,” Archila said. “That’s our that’s our, you know, all of our work, all of our material,” Archila said.
A senior vice president at KPM previously responded to complaints about the San Remo Apartments, saying they’re looking to hire additional maintenance help, but it’s been difficult, and they’re experiencing supply chain issues. They also said they’ve been pouring money into maintenance issues they inherited.
After reaching out to the I-TEAM, Archila said KPM worked out an agreement with KPM, paying them 90% of what they were owed — about $39,000.
But Saunders with Excelsior says they’re still owed hundreds of thousands of dollars. He told the I-TEAM the business would not have gone under if KPM had paid them.
A spokesperson for KPM confirmed they paid Tobby Tubs, but they went on to say “all contracts KPM Property Management has with its vendors are confidential and therefore the company is unable to share further details. The company can confirm that all services that were authorized under our contract have been paid for.”
“Property Management continues to work directly with all its property vendors on services as well as getting invoices paid in a timely matter. As always, all vendors can reach out to our on-site property teams directly for further discussion,” they said.
As for Saunders, he says about 20 former employees of Excelsior Security Agency have since formed a new security company called Proteus Protective Services.