INDIANAPOLIS — After two Indianapolis apartment complexes were cut off from the water supply following unpaid bills from the properties’ ownership, service is being restored.
On Friday, the City of Indianapolis announced that the city has reached an agreement with Citizens Energy Group to restore water service to tenants by midnight.
This comes after Citizens made the decision to cut off water at Berkley Commons in Perry Township and Capital Place on Indy’s south side. The property ownership had not paid the bills, despite water bill payments being lumped into tenant’s rent checks.
While the two complexes have different management companies listed on county property records, FOX59 has learned they are linked to the same non-profit organization that also owns the troubled Lakeside Pointe at Nora Apartments, which are in the process of being sold.
State Representative Justin Moed was at Capital Place on Friday. His constituents have already been through this at one of Aloft Management’s other properties.
“They are supposedly a non-profit. They have a sign saying they take rental assistance from the government, and they are turning around and not paying utility bills. It’s crazy,” says Moed, “We are going to start looking at what we can do to get more early notice for agencies like the trustees office or the Health Department, so that we can be ready in case this gets to the point that water turns off in the future.”
Mayor Joe Hogsett released a statement Friday after the agreement was made with Citizens Energy Group.
“We are pleased to have reached this agreement to restore service to tenants. By working with the Marion County Public Health Department, partners, and the community we will ensure residents have access to basic services and stable housing moving forward. The City of Indianapolis plans to use every resource at our disposal to hold the property owner of these complexes responsible for putting tenants in these harmful and dangerous conditions.”Mayor Joe Hogsett
Tenants at Berkley Commons tell us that portable toilets were placed at the property on Friday night. It has some residents concerned that the deal between the city and Citizens Energy will only be temporary.
A legal case remains on the table between the Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County (HHC) and Citizens Energy. HHC levied an emergency action complaint against Citizens in Marion County court. The lawsuit remains despite the water coming back on.
Tenants are also taking legal action in small claims court. Don Hauser, a resident at Berkley Commons, won his case Friday morning. He is now being represented by Brandon Beeler, the Housing Law Center Director for Indiana Legal Services. He filed an emergency possession order against Berkley Commons. Beeler says the property owners did not show up to the hearing.
“The judge upon reviewing the evidence, as well as reviewing the petition, found that the tenant was entitled to emergency possession, and therefore ordered that the Berkley Commons, and their owners, restore the water within 24-hours,” explains Beeler, “Failure to do so will result in sanctions and damages for Mr. Hauser.”
A compliance hearing is set for next week in the case. This could lead to a payout for Hauser.
“A lot is based off his actually damages. If he needs to go to a hotel or a motel to take a bath,” lists Beeler citing examples.
Hauser is not alone. Beeler says his office has received requests from other tenants looking to follow suit with similar lawsuits.