Maintenance repairs go unanswered at Franklin Place Apartments; residents see rent increase

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FRANKLIN, Ind. — Residents living at Franklin Place Apartments say they are desperate for answers after their maintenance requests go unaddressed for weeks.

“The sewer water came up in the drains, the bathtub, and the shower drain,” said Lillian Rork, a Franklin Place tenant for the past four years. “And it’s happened before – it’ll be two years next month. Same thing happened only this time it’s taken a much longer time to get things done.”

After sewage flooded her unit on October 8, Rork said she has been living with unfinished floors for the past five weeks. She said management brought in a third-party contractor to remove all of her carpeting, but no crews ever returned to finish the job.

“We know things take time and so it’s been plenty of time,” said Rork’s daughter, Lisa Ray Webb.

During a tour of Rork’s unit, our crews observed bare concrete floors with exposed nails, poor water pressure, and broken windows.

Webb said it has been a struggle getting management to address immediate issues. She said a leak in the ceiling also went unaddressed for weeks.

“We had a hole in the wall there for several weeks where mice were falling down,” said Webb. “There’s a picture there where mom had buckets to catch the water that was leaking out and that took a while to get resolved.”

Despite maintenance repairs going unaddressed, Rork said she is now being asked to pay more. A letter from management dated November 3 claims her monthly rent will be going up.

“It says effective the first month after your lease renews your monthly base rent will be $800. Well I was paying $649 so thats a $150 increase,” said Rork.

“On top of everything that’s going on – to even give her anything like that before any of this is resolved is heartless,” said Webb. “I feel like what they’re doing is they’re trying to charge residents rent for all the things that need to be fixed around here. They’re trying to get [that money] from the tenants.”

“This has been going on for years,” said Darwin Stannard, Rork’s next door neighbor. “This property is dilapidated. I mean it’s not being taken care of.”

Stannard said he and his mother, Connie Dulik, have lived at Franklin Place Apartments for the last 21 years. However, he claims conditions began deteriorating in the last five years.

“It’s not just one unit and it’s not just a couple people complaining,” said Stannard. “It’s everybody in here – even past residents!”

Stannard said his own unit also flooded with sewage on October 8, but he removed his own carpeting after requests for maintenance went unanswered.

“Well we couldn’t get a hold of anyone and I had to get it out of here,” said Stannard citing his own health concerns and those of his 75 year-old mother. “They keep the office doors locked when they’re supposed to be in there. [Kittle Property Group] won’t answer the phones. I’ve left them messages for four weeks.”

“There’s no maintenance. There hasn’t been maintenance for over a year here,” said Webb. “They hired two people but they only lasted a month between the two of them.”

While our crews were on the property, several residents came out of their homes to share their concerns. Shortly after our arrival, property managers with Franklin Place Apartments hand-delivered letters to both Rork and Stannard stating that a vinyl flooring company will arrive on Friday to repair both units.

However, the complex’s parent company, Kittle Property Group, has only acknowledged one unit as having been impacted by sewage flooding. In a written statement, a spokesperson said in part:

We are aware that one apartment has missing flooring. This apartment belongs to an elderly resident who is unable to move her own furniture, so we needed additional time to schedule a moving company so the new flooring could be installed. 

If there is another resident in the same situation, we would obviously extend the same courtesy, but have not been notified of such.

Laurren Brown – Manager of Corporate Communications 
Kittle Property Group, Inc.

A spokesperson with Kittle Property Group said a third-party maintenance company is currently providing maintenance services at Franklin Place. The property management company said it has been impacted by the same staffing shortages seen nationwide and it is still seeking a permanent, full-time employee.

“Home is where the heart is and this is depressing,” said Webb. “I’m really afraid for my mom if I wasn’t here to help out and be a voice for her. We’re both really private people and we don’t like to shake things up but enough is enough.”

Below is the full statement from Kittle Property Group, Inc.:

We did have a recent sewage backup caused by baby wipes and personal items (this could have been anyone in the building, not necessarily the person contacting you). The night it happened, the property manager acted promptly to engage a vendor to clear the blockage.

The very next day, another contractor was out to pull all wet and damaged drywall and carpet to prevent contamination or mildew/mold growth and make the apartment safe for the resident to be in. Since then, we have had contractors out working on drywall, etc. for the past couple weeks getting this issue of the damage resolved. We have vinyl going into the apartments starting this Friday. After the vinyl has been placed, our contractors will be coming back in to finish up any other repairs.

We are aware that one apartment has missing flooring. This apartment belongs to an elderly resident who is unable to move her own furniture, so we needed additional time to schedule a moving company so the new flooring could be installed. 

If there is another resident in the same situation, we would obviously extend the same courtesy, but have not been notified of such.

We currently have a 3rd party maintenance company providing maintenance services at Franklin Place. In terms of a permanent employee, like many others in our industry, we have been impacted by staffing shortages around the country. We are actively seeking a full-time maintenance employee and have recently increased the offered wage to attract more candidates. That said, in the case of the sewer back-up, a maintenance person would not have handled the situation any differently than the manager did in that we would have needed a 3rd party plumbing company regardless.

Laurren Brown – Manager of Corporate Communications 
Kittle Property Group, Inc.

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