SAN FRANCISCO-One of the city’s largest low-income housing landlords has filed a lawsuit against the city of San Francisco that counters a lawsuit filed against it by the city attorney’s office earlier this year.

A faction of Apartment Investment and Management Co., which owns four low-income apartment complexes in the Bayview Hunters Point area, is alleging that a city building inspector is unfairly targeting the company in order to raise millions of dollars for the department.

The lawsuit counters one filed by the city attorney’s office against AIMCO less than a year ago, alleging the housing giant ignored orders to correct mold and structural problems. A San Francisco Department of Building Inspection spokeswoman says the department does not need any extra money and that the litigation was the last resort.

An AIMCO official said that they have been trying to settle the lawsuit filed by the city for a year and had no choice but to bring a counter claim because the city is stalling its redevelopment of the aforementioned complexes.

“We stand fully an unequivocally behind the merits of our legal action against AIMCO,” says San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera. “While we agree that litigation is a regrettable course of action, AIMCO’s reckless and repeated violations of building, housing, health, plumbing, electrical and fire codes have made it necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of their understandably frustrated tenants, who are forced to endure deplorable conditions.”

Meanwhile, Patty Swayder, a senior vice president with AIMCO, says that the company has been “unfairly targeted and harassed” by the city. The landowner is alleging that the city has inflated and falsified violations and did not give them enough time to fix the problems once they were cited. “Many tenant complaints were solicited or promoted by the city, and the conditions described would not have resulted in the issuance of a violation,” says James Hunt, AIMCO attorney, in a prepared statement.

This is not the first time in recent history that AIMCO has experienced litigation for its allegedly poor maintenance at Hunters Point complexes. In April 2001 a group of San Francisco residents who lived in the Shoreview Apartment Complex–also in the Bayview Hunters Point area–sued AIMCO, alleging molds and toxins were allowed to grow in their apartment units. The lawsuit is still pending. A spokeswoman for the landlord says less than 5% of the units had mold problems and that they were actively working with tenants to solve the problems.

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