Saturday, August 20, 2011

Electric, Gas Shutoff = Condemnation, Says City As Rent-Skimming Landlord's Failure To Pay Utility Bills Leads To Boot For Renters In 14-Unit Building

In Auburn, New York, The Citizen reports:
  • Tenants at an Auburn apartment house were outraged Monday after Auburn code enforcement officials told them they had 24 hours to leave the property because the property owner failed to pay utility bills.


  • Brian Hicks, the senior code enforcement officer for the city, said the apartment house at 7 Grover St. was condemned Monday afternoon because all the utilities were shut off due to unpaid bills.


  • Without electric and gas, Hicks said the city has to consider all 14 apartments unsanitary and uninhabitable. “They have within 24 hours of the posting to leave,” Hicks said. “Anyone who doesn’t will be escorted out by police.”


  • Tenants were frustrated with both the city and the property owner Monday. Many of the tenants said the city did nothing to help them find new or temporary accommodations.


  • The tenants, who pay between $450 and $550 a month in rent, said utilities are included in their rent, and that it’s the property owner’s responsibility to pay for electric and gas.


  • Tenant Cyndy Schultz said tenants can’t pay the bills themselves because they don’t have access to the account numbers. “I could see if the roof was falling in, if the pipes were leaking or if the building was collapsing, but none of that is happening here,” said Schultz, as she wiped away tears while trying to figure out where she will go. “I pay my rent, (the owners) are supposed to be paying the bills.”

***

  • Schultz said her apartment is the only one that does not include electricity in the rent, but was told she still has to leave even though her lights are still on because the whole building is condemned. Lights in the rest of the complex were not working Monday.

For more, see Grover Street tenants evicted because of unpaid utility bills.

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