KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Parkville family that has been paying renters insurance since last April is now trying to figure out how much longer they can live out of a hotel.
On Tuesday, Feb. 6, the Southern Platte Fire Protection District and Kansas City Fire Department responded to a structure fire at 11200 NW Crooked Road in Parkville.
The fire started between apartment No. 2 and 3, according to SPFPD Fire Marshal Dean Cull that night as crews battled an electrical fire as temperatures were hovering between 15 and 20 degrees.
Samantha Stuckey made the original 911 call after smelling smoke in apartment No. 2. Her family was one of four displaced by the fire, but to add insult to injury, she recently found out that the extra $10 a month they were paying for renters insurance didn’t really matter.
As it turns out, The Links at Parkville changed ownership last fall and the new owners don’t require renters insurance — unlike the previous owners Peak Capital Partners from Provo, Utah. The property is currently managed by Urban Southwest, which took over on Oct. 12, 2017, according to Stuckey.
Somewhere between the change in ownership, the rental insurance fell through and now Stuckey, her husband, Edward, and their three children are living in a hotel trying to figure out what to do next.
“We didn’t sign a new lease, we didn’t sign anything when they took over,” Stuckey said.
She said the only communication from the new management group was to save rent receipts of past rent payments since they weren’t left all of the paperwork during the transition, but nothing was mentioned about renters insurance, according to Stuckey.
An attempt to reach management at The Links at Parkville was unsuccessful. The representative did note during a phone call that there was ‘no story there’ about the Stuckeys — and likely other residents — paying for renters insurance that isn’t really there.
When pressed, the representative said there would be no further comment. That was in line with how the company responded to KCTV5 when they inquired.
Stuckey spoke to the irony of this when she and others gathered behind the four-plex apartment as smoke and flames came out and firefighters battled the blaze.
“There was a ton of people coming and wanting to help, there was probably about 30 people standing around back,” said Stuckey, whose family was living temporarily in a hotel off Interstate 29 by KCI Airport. “People kept saying to us it will be OK, we all have mandatory renters insurance.”
Now, Stuckey is hoping her former neighbors won’t have to go through the hassle she and her family are currently experiencing.
She is currently trying to find out who the old insurance company was when they signed their lease on April 28, 2017. Neither the new management nor old management companies will provide Stuckey with the details.
The only thing the family has is the back of their original lease that was about renters insurance, which says Community RRL Program. The old management company offered it for $10 a month or gave the option for the couple to get their own. Stuckey said she called their auto insurance provider, who gave a quote that was much higher than the $10 offered from The Links at Parkville.
Stuckey said she went and got a $10 money order while they decided which direction to take after signing the lease. They had a 15-day window to tell the complex what they decided and she gave them the money order.
“We moved in the base rent was $1,089 at the complex and there was mandatory renters insurance, you had to have it,” Stuckey said of the insurance that would pay up to $15,000.
The family never saw a drop in the rent after the change in ownership, which led them to believe the extra $10 a month was going toward renters insurance.
“The old company didn’t leave any paperwork,” Stuckey said. “We had no clue (we didn’t have renters insurance). Once they bought the property, even looking into buying it, they should’ve looked into. I feel they are both at fault.
“They pretty much said, we can’t help you. They can at least give me their insurance. That is like buying a car and the transmission goes out. You don’t go to the older owner and make them pay for it. That is how I feel, this company should be responsible. I want the other families to know about this. They are paying for it and if something happens to them, they are in the same predicament.”
In the days after the fire, the apartment complex offered open apartments to the families impacted, but Stuckey said with children aged 1, 2 and 8, a one- or two-bedroom apartment wasn’t going to be enough.
The family has had issues with the apartment since they moved in, including a request to fix an electrical outlet, that were never addressed by either management groups.
An outlet in the bathroom kept blowing the breaker to the point where the mother of two toddlers gave up trying to fight with using a hair dryer.
The day of the fire, the family paid their February rent and noticed the lights were flickering during dinner, but with a possible ice storm on the way, Stuckey said they brushed off the sign.
She got her son dressed for bed when she started smelling smoke later in the night. Stuckey went down to the second level and saw smoke in the living room and kitchen. Her husband was down in the basement at the time, but the two got children out of the house and called 911.
Crews arrived within minutes but no fire was initially located. Edward Stuckey went to his truck to retrieve a car seat when he saw the wires running from the electrical box turn bright red and later a Kansas City Fire Department battalion chief saw the first flames.
The family waited for nearly four hours while crews battled the fire. Cull noted the cause of the fire was electrical in nature, but there was too much damage to tell the cause or the origin.
Firefighters were able to retrieve her baby books, but not much else is salvageable.
The family was able to stay cost free the first week after the fire after Edward’s work — EcoLab — footed the bill. The American Red Cross provided assistance the second week for the family, who is looking to move back to their hometown of St. Louis after the fire.
Stuckey’s family has set up a GoFundMe page to help out. The page can be found at www.gofundme.com/stuckey-family-fire-recovery.