INDIANAPOLIS – Residents at an apartment complex on the south side of Indianapolis are just two days from having their water services shut off because the property owners haven’t been paying the bill.
On Thursday, residents throughout the Berkley Commons Apartments, located in the 8200 block of Madison Avenue, received notices from Citizens Energy Groups that their water and wastewater services were scheduled for disconnect on or after February 17 “unless immediate action is taken by your property owner”.
“Please prepare accordingly,” the notice said. “We suggest you contact your property owner if you have questions.” While officials at Citizens Energy Group are not permitted to share specific dollar amounts, they say Berkley Commons IN LLC is delinquent on a “very large” water utility bill.
“It makes me mad,” said Berkley Commons resident Ashley Kelly. “Our rent is supposed to cover the water bills every month.”
Kelly and other residents are concerned about taking care of their families if the water is turned off. “I have a newborn that has to use formula, so I have to use water,” she said. “I mean they have to take baths, I have to do laundry.”
Kelly says she and her neighbors checked in with employees in the property management office as soon as they became aware of the situation. “The office told us that they were taking care of it right then, to disregard it,” she said.
When FOX59 visited the office, a woman said the same thing. She stated that the situation was being taken care of.
However, as of late Monday afternoon, Citizens Energy said the situation was not taken care of. While the management company representing the property had emailed Citizens Energy around 2:00 p.m. Monday, no payment had been made and no payment arrangement had been reached.
“Unless the company enters into a payment arrangement including providing a payment of a portion of the balance, Citizens will disconnect the water service this Thursday,” said spokesperson Dan Considine. “We are hopeful this will not be necessary.”
In the meantime, Brandon Beeler, Director of the Housing Law Center at Indiana Legal Services, says Berkley Commons residents could pursue a legal option that could potentially bring quick results.
Beeler says the residents could file an Emergency Possessory Order in Perry Township small claims court, where they could represent themselves. If an emergency is established, the court would scheduled a hearing within three days.
“In that situation, the court does have the authority and has the jurisdiction to compel a party to actually take action,” Beeler said. While the action may not come in time before the water disconnect happens, it could provide an avenue of relief while the water bill issue is being resolved.
“It could be other alternatives that they must provide the tenant alternate housing or other things while they work out the issue,” Beeler said.
Beeler encourages residents to report problems to the Indianapolis Mayor’s Action Center as well as the Marion County Public Health Department. He also believes the tenants should gather as many neighbors together as possible to file consumer complaint forms in order to get the attention of the Indiana Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division.