A Juneau District Court judge ruled against District 1 Assembly candidate Loretto Jones in small claims court this week after a resident who rented from Jones alleged that Jones did not comply with the Landlord Tenant Act and refused to return her security deposit.
The tenant, Kristin Rees, said in a statement to the court that Jones failed to register Rees as a tenant and also neglected to tell Rees about parking rules in the condominium complex. According to Rees’ statement to the court, Rees racked up parking fines while Jones was out of town for an extended work trip to Florida, and because Jones hadn’t registered Rees as a tenant, the president of the homeowners association Colleen Kautz had no way to contact Rees.
Rees terminated her lease and Jones refused to return her $600 security deposit within 30 days, saying via text message (records of which were supplied to the court) to Rees that the parking violations exceeded the amount of the deposit and that Rees would not be getting her deposit back. Rees was depending on the security deposit money to take a college class and had to drop out of the class, she said. Section 34.03.070 (g) of Alaska’s Landlord Tenant Act states that a landlord must mail a renter’s security deposit within 30 days after the tenancy is terminated.
Judge Kirsten Swanson ruled Tuesday that Rees was entitled to $1,200 for her security deposit and for Jones’ “willful noncompliance with the Landlord Tenant Act.”
On Thursday morning, Jones said she hadn’t yet heard the ruling and didn’t see it as much of a threat to her campaign. She also said in an email Thursday afternoon that she believes that those speaking out against her are “politically driven.”
“I haven’t seen it and don’t see how a judge’s ruling in Small Claims court has anything to do with my campaign,” Jones said. “As a property manager, this is fairly common and that is why we have a legal system.”
Rees said in an interview Thursday morning she once had a close relationship with Jones and had a great deal of respect for her. Jones even offered Rees the chance to be property manager at one point, and text messages provided to the court show what appeared to be a warm relationship. As the months went on, however, Rees said her view changed.
Multiple people who rented from Jones have also taken her to court for Jones withholding security deposits, according to court records. Former tenants Stephen Raye Childs and Melissa Johnson successfully recovered damages from Jones in two separate cases in 2016, according to court records.
Another person, Aidan Vasquez, who lived in the condo complex at the same time as Rees in Jones’ property, said he still hasn’t received his security deposit after moving out of the property before the end of July and is considering legal action.
Kautz, the president of the homeowners association of which Jones is a member, declined comment.
Jones is running for the District 1 Assembly seat in this election against incumbent Jesse Kiehl and fellow challenger Chuck Collins.
The Juneau Police Department ended up at Jones’ house Tuesday after multiple eyewitnesses reported seeing Jones’ truck near houses with stolen street signs. One eyewitness said he saw Jones herself pulling up street signs, and another said that she saw Jones’ truck in her driveway and when the truck pulled away, multiple campaign signs were missing and a sign for Jones stood in her yard instead.
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