By Beth Hillyer
KAILUA (KHNL)--The dispute between residents of a Kailua apartment and the building owner, heats up.
Some tenants of the Kailuan now face eviction and they have an attorney who believes they have the legal right to buy their leases.
It's an apartment argument that could leave some people without homes.
This is confusing and that's what's lead to the frustrations of a handful of tenants in the 18 unit building. They know their leases were up at the end of 2007 and even turned down $10,000 incentives to re-locate. They believe they have a stake in the property, but the landowner, Kaneohe Ranch says not so.
The lease is up they must go.
The sign on the building begs the building owner to allow tenants to buy it.
But Kaneohe ranch has other plans for this property.
All of these dilapidated rental units next door are sold to make way for a new masterplanned community.
The dispute at the Kailuan is about whether the residents are renters or owners with rights to buy leasehold property.
"But my clients aren't just tenants my clients are owners and once it was converted to a housing co-op back in 1986 certain rights trigger," said attorney Gerard Jervis.
Kaneohe Ranch's attorney says co-op ownership merely consists of shares in the Kailuan corporation which gives them no rights to the building or the land.
"If the lessor Kaneohe Ranch is going to sell the property then the Kailuan Inc and the tenants in there have the right of first refusal," said Jervis.
Kaneohe Ranch says right of first refusal doesn't apply because the lease expired and maintains it can sell the property.
That means tenants like Sara who is handicapped face eviction.
"I don't want to roll away from it, I"ve invested everything I have into my home and it's like a house to me because I have purchased the entire bottom floor," complained Sara Way.
Now it's up to a judge to decide if Sara and a half dozen other tenants still here, indeed own their apartments.