68 Families Evicted Because Landlord Owes $79,000 Water Bill

Terrible: being forced out of your home during the Christmas/New Year’s holiday stretch. Even worse: losing your home because your landlord hasn’t paid the water bill in months. That’s what is about to happen to sixty-eight families in Oklahoma because their out-of-state landlord hasn’t paid the apartment complex’s water bill in months.

“I have $20 in my checking account; I have two children that have been sick for the past three weeks. I barely make minimum wage. I don’t have the money for a deposit,” one young mother complained to reporters.

The city will shut off water to the buildings, and residents will have ten days to find somewhere else to live. They will not receive their deposits back, or a refund of their December rent.

Residents At Tulsa Apartment Complex Given Eviction Notice After Owner Fails To Pay Bill
[News on 6]


Edit Your Comment

  1. obits3 says:

    Hmmm…. This does not sit well with me. There should be a way for these people to take ownership of the property and settle with the city as a community (a new special type of adverse possession based on the owner’s delinquency).

    • PSUSkier says:

      Hell, even if the city just allowed the tenants to open their own water accounts — assuming there was individual water shut of for the apartments.

      • SlayerGhede says:

        “I have $20 in my checking account; I have two children that have been sick for the past three weeks. I barely make minimum wage. I don’t have the money for a deposit,”

        Yes. She can afford a new utility bill too.

      • MrEvil says:

        Rarely in that part of the country are the units individually metered. The complex is on a common meter and the water bill is lumped in with rent. It’s pretty common in Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle where they act like the water will never run out. Here in Austin good luck finding an apartment that’s not sub-metered.

    • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

      Updated – the City of Tulsa avoids playing Grinch by delaying the shut-off for two weeks: http://www.newson6.com/Global/story.asp?S=13684564

    • trentblase says:

      The water company should just agree to keep service running as long as the tenants forward all their rent checks until the bill is paid. It’s not a good long term solution, but it would give them time to did a new place.

  2. Blueskylaw says:

    It seems that this water department’s timing is just as good as the city that decided to do major sewer work right after repaving most of their streets.

    • lance55 says:

      One summer during college, I worked for the City Public Works – the Water Department, to be specific. That summer, we discovered a huge underground water main leak… Right at the entrance of the Public Works facility. It had been leaking for approx. 8 years.

    • mad_oak says:

      How about the nice summer Saturday they took a busy 5 miles of South Bound I-75 down to 1 lane to repaint the lane lines. 6 weeks later they RESURFACED the exact same lanes. When its not their money, why think ahead???

  3. lolBunny says:

    This is not right. Don’t victimize the tenants, go after the irresponsible landlord!

    This just upsets me no matter what scale it happens on. I know someone who rented a house that got foreclosed on, the tenants paid the rent every month on time, but the owner of the house did not pay the bank. This is the same thing with this guy over the water bill.

    The innocent people get the shaft here…. not happy about this.

    • minjche says:

      I agree it’s wrong, but think of it this way: What better way to get a landlord to pay than to get 68 individual groups of people all yelling at once?

      • AstroPig7 says:

        The kind of person who skips the water bill for this long probably doesn’t care who is yelling at him. I sense that we’re dealing with a scumbag.

      • humphrmi says:

        The landlord is out of state and probably doesn’t care. And the city probably can’t afford to go sue him in another state. Hence the only recourse that they have it to shut off the water. Which makes the building uninhabitable, hence they’re getting thrown out.

        This is why, when I was a tenant, I didn’t move into any apartments where the landlord paid for utilities. It may sound great, “hey, rent includes heat!” or water or whatever, but then you’re at their mercy when they don’t pay, and I guarantee that they’re making more money paying the utilities and adding the costs to your rent than you’d pay if you just paid the utility yourself.

        • Mom says:

          I think the fact that an entire complex full of tenants moves out and stops paying rent at the same time will probably have more of an impact than anything anyone says.

    • LordXar says:

      This happened to me and my family. We were renting for 3+ years and the out of town landlord just stopped paying the mortgage but kept taking my rent check. We didn’t find out until the sheriff showed up with an eviction notice.
      I’m sure nothing bad happened to the landlord. But I had to move my 3 bedroom house twice in the span of 4 months because of it. My wife was pregnant at the time and my other daughter was only 3.
      I wish I could do something to that bastard. Sue him for the move costs, lawyer costs, rent he owes me and the pain and suffering of the worst 2 months of my life.

  4. Mr Grey says:

    Seems like human thing to do would be leave the water on, and let the people live there.

    • Griking says:

      I agree.

      Free utilities for everyone

    • leprechaunshawn says:

      I want to move in to a building that you own. Along with my free water I will also be requiring free DirecTV, free heat, free rent and $100 a week in groceries included.

      • skylar.sutton says:

        They have that… I think they call it Section 8

      • MMD says:

        There’s probably a middle ground here…

      • Mr Grey says:

        @lepshawn – You’re a moron – this isn’t a case of people trying to get something for nothing.

        The tenants have presumably been paying their rent – so in effect they have been paying their shares of the water bill in good faith. They city should be prosecuting the owner.

        Its Winter outside – and while Oklahoma is warmer than WI. Its still get fairly cold.

        • leprechaunshawn says:

          Name calling is generally not how we get our points across. How about you run along now and let the adults talk?

          Are these people getting a tough break? Yes. However, that doesn’t mean that I have to think it’s a good idea to let them live there while everybody else takes over the responsibility of paying for their utilities.

    • DanRydell says:

      So if someone owed you a lot of money and showed no intention of paying you what they owe, you’d do the “human” thing and allow them to continue incurring more debt?

      • Wombatish says:

        THEY didn’t incur the debt, the landlord did. THEY paid their rent which likely included their water.

        So yes, let THEM live there and let THEM take up the water bill. The city can seize the property for the delinquent bill and then sell it off to a new property manager.

        Then of course the new property manager will probably try to evict all the tenants, but that’s another post for another day.

        • Wombatish says:

          And yes, there’s some state law there but last I checked OK has eminent domain if nothing else.

          Keeping a large apartment complex from becoming and abandoned slum could certainly be made a case for ‘seizing the property for the betterment of the community’. Then split the required payment between the debtors and sell off the property.

          Yes, there wouldn’t be 100% of the money recovered, and it would be a bit of work on the cities part, but the mortgage company if nothing else would probably have the resources to hunt the guy down out of state.

          If all the parties play nice instead of demanding every last ounce of their piece of the pie, the rest of you be damned, a solution could be found.

          • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

            How about we just let them pay the utilities and property tax and stop paying rent altogether. Pay the owner a single dollar for eminent domain. New tenants would have to pay the city rent.

        • DanRydell says:

          I know THEY didn’t, the landlord did. He was the person I was referring to who would be continuing to incur more debt if they turned the water back on. The tenants are irrelevant, they have no relationship with the water company. So my question stands as I asked it.

  5. Azuaron says:

    Unless I’m mistaken, the landlord is required to put the tenant up in an equivalently sized/quality hotel/apartment for the duration of the lease.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      Housing laws vary widely by state and even so, you can’t get blood from a stone. If the landlord is past due $79,000 on water and nobody is picking up the trash, I’m sure it’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s probably a whole slew of other past due utilities, taxes, insurance, and mortgage payments.

    • jessjj347 says:

      The laws vary by state. In some states the renters can’t even be evicted for 90 or so days. Also, in some states renters can withhold rent if the utilities are not being paid for.

  6. HannahK says:

    Because taking away the landlord’s rent paying tenants (screwing them over in the process) is a sure way to make sure he eventually pays the city what they are owed, right?

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      In my city, a lack of utilities will result in the house being declared uninhabitable. I’m guessing the same thing would happen in a building that doesn’t have water or sewage.

    • DanRydell says:

      Obviously HAVING the rent payments and knowing that the water would be shut off for non-payment wasn’t enough to get him to pay the water bill. What exactly do you suggest they do? He’s months behind. Should they keep giving him free water? Allowing the tenants to open their own accounts would be nice, but 1. that takes away their leverage to get their $80,000, and 2. the building probably doesn’t have individual water meters.

      The blame for this belongs to the landlord and no one else.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        It doesn’t take away any leverage. Give them individual accounts or not, they will be sueing the landlord.

        • DanRydell says:

          Really? You can’t see how it would take away their leverage? Honestly? Come on man, think! Think a little harder! From the dumbfounded look on your face, I guess I’m going to have to explain it.

          Cutting off his water gives the water company leverage. Leverage in the form of water. If he wants to have the water turned back on, he has to pay the bill. Turning off the water creates problems for him that he would probably like to resolve ASAP. Specifically, he no longer has tenants so he is no longer getting income from that building. Surely you can see that cutting off the water creates a HUGE incentive for this guy to pay his water bill.

          Now, suppose the water company lets all of the tenants get their own water service. That just solved the landlord’s problem! Not only is the water back on, but he’s no longer a customer of the water company. If he doesn’t pay his bill, what are they going to do? Turn his water off? Oops, can’t do that. Now they have to sue him.

          Consider yourself educated.

      • Megalomania says:

        They should take possession of the building and either sell it or keep it and use the rent to pay the bill. The rent from 68 families should only take a couple months to pay off $79,000, as the city wouldn’t be incurring any expenses by taking possession

  7. MacRtst says:

    I don’t understand why they are getting evicted. Who is evicting them? they just don’t have water. It’s not like he can rent the apartments again.

    • minjche says:

      My guess is the landlord had his license/permit to rent revoked, which would sort of automatically evict anyone who was renting from him.

      I don’t know the local laws and IANAL though, so grain of salt.

    • flyingember says:

      in some places you need water to make a place inhabitable be it a state, county or local law

    • MikeM_inMD says:

      If there’s no water, the health department considers the place as unfit for habitation. I doubt there is a single area in the US where the local health department allows you to rent out a place that doesn’t have running water.

    • earthprince says:

      If the main issue for eviction is lack of payment for water, it would be very considerate if the water company would make an exception and keep it on at least until the end of the month, if not longer.

      • DanRydell says:

        How long do you think it’s been since he paid his water bill? My water bill is $20 a month for 2 people. He had 70 units. Do the math, round liberally. It’s not like this was a sudden thing.

        • Not Given says:

          My water bill has been $45/month this winter and that’s their minimum. In the summer, watering the veggie garden it was higher.

          It’s close to freezing or below every night this week in SW OK.

  8. Supes says:

    Damn landlord.

    He should just have the tenants pay the rent payments directly to the water company over the next month or two to make up the deficit. If they leave instead, not like he’d be getting rent payments anyway.

    • Green10mm says:

      Pro Residential
      631 S Olive St Ste 510
      Los Angeles, CA 90014

      (213) 488-1424

    • not-gonna-tell-ya says:

      That’s actually not a bad idea. The penalty shouldn’t be that they kick out the residents and still get nothing. They should be able to seize his incomming assets until the bill is paid. Then it’s a win-win situation for everyone (except the deadbeat). That also gives people time to start preparing to move.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      This is the best solution ever. It really helps everyone who was victimized, including the water company, and penalizes the one person who deserved it.

      This is why communities should work together for solutions. Now if only they can rally together and get this solution implemented.

    • pgh9fan1 says:

      In some states, including my Pennsylvania, that’s exactly what can happen. If a landlord isn’t paying a bill for a utility the lessee has the option to pay the bill directly and deduct any monies paid from the rent.

  9. Winter White says:

    Unfair that they will not receive their deposits back.

    Not unfair that they can’t afford to move because they didn’t save enough money for an emergency.

    • Thorzdad says:

      I was wondering when a “blame the victims somehow for something” response would show up. Thanks for not disappointing!

      • not-gonna-tell-ya says:

        while the comment may be callous (sp), it is true. EVERYONE should have a backup plan, emergency plan. When the SH#$ hits the fan, you can only rely on you. Think about it…. When it hits the fan, how many times is it your fault that you are in a bind? Just guessing but I would say less than 5%.. Looking to mommy or daddy for help just because you aren’t prepared for lifes gotchas only works until you are an adult.

        BTW, I think the landlord should be strung up and stoned by these residents. I also think they should get every ounce of restitution from him.

        • LadyTL says:

          Not everyone has a job with a living wage that allows them to make a savings for emergencies. In fact one of them mentioned in the above that they barely make minimum wage so at least some of the people there do not make enough money to always have saved up money for a new apartment.

          • not-gonna-tell-ya says:

            Ok, maybe I’m cranky this morning, but I’m not completely buying that. We seem to have the richest poor people in the world. Probably anecdotal, but I have seen dozens of examples of what you explained, however many/most of them are driving a newer car, usually with tinted windows, or custom rims. People living in Section 8 housing, new cell phones, 40″ or higher flat panel tvs showing through their open doors. I believe that is the average ‘poor’ person. They could save for emergencies that life throws them, but they choose to improve their short term lifestyle. Hell I’m even guilty of it to an extent. My kids have tons of lifes luxuries, yet I get into money pinches when life throws me a curveball. I’m trying. I drive a 10 year old car, but I’m saving for a replacement. Sure I could go buy a new one and pay out the yang in interest on a new car and look cool, but I know that will end of costing me more in the long run.

            I think the person that is truely struggling. Ie, No cable, no phone, eats cheese sandwiches, works two jobs to support living, had a major illness that wiped them out, etc is less likely the average scenario than people like to think, or trot out there.

            • LadyTL says:

              So because you see Some people gaming the system, all of them must be? As one of those “non-average” people you claim barely exist, I say you are full of it. Just because you can’t see people living on the edge does not mean they don’t exist. It’s just easier to see the morons gaming the system then the people who are just trying to get by, mostly because the people just trying to get by don’t buy big expensive items.

              • not-gonna-tell-ya says:

                Well I never said I assume all people are gaming the system, and it’s not really gaming as the govt doesn’t dictate lifestyle choices. It pretty much looks at the bottom line and makes a decision of need.

                I said a majority of people in need could prepare better to aleviate binds that will enevitably happen. You just trotted yourself out as a red herring. I don’t know you but I’ll take your word that you are truely strapped or what not. But where I live, when I stop seeing people drive up in new SUVs to the food pantry, I’ll change my tune.

            • Brunette Bookworm says:

              Ah, the ever talked about “welfare queens.” I work in a town that is very poor. I drive by Section 8 housing. I don’t see new cars parked in there. Often they are old cars that are falling apart. I also see a lot of people walk out of there and walk to the bus stop. And even if they have cell phones so what? They may not have a home phone but get cell phones. If they have kids then they need a way to be reached.

            • JulesNoctambule says:

              Ah, now the truth comes out!

    • minjche says:

      Back to your bridge at once!

    • galm666 says:

      While you or myself might be in a position to save up for that rainy day, not everyone is. Some are responsible for that with poor planning, but some are also just given bad hands to play.

      Either way, this puts people in a huge bind, and it happens at the fault of someone else who was more than irresponsible. Even with the money I make now, if I was in a spot like this, I’d be pissed off, righteously indignant, and probably looking for a lawsuit while I scramble to find a place to live.

      • not-gonna-tell-ya says:

        And you should be all of those things. I would string him up if I could. But it isn’t someone elses duty to make sure you can find another place to live…. I like to think of it like insurance. If my house burned to the ground today, I would use my homeowners insurance to pay to rebuild, replace, and pay for my extended hotel stay during construction. I pay everymonth for this planning. If I didn’t I would be no ones fault but mine that I wasn’t prepared for life

        • LadyTL says:

          Ah so it’s their fault the economy sucks, most corporations don’t want to pay a living wage and there it is harder than normal to find a decent job. Gee I thought they are having trouble because it is next to impossible to save up any decent amount on minimum wage without having someone pay all your expenses for you.

          • not-gonna-tell-ya says:

            Macro economics aside, I never made those statements. I’ll dissect your misdirected angst though.

            1) It’s their fault the economy sucks
            No. I’m saying it’s their responsibility to prepare for a sucky economy. It’s happened before, and it will enevitably happen again.

            2) Most corporations don’t want to pay a living wage.
            This is a bastion of liberal thought. Let’s say you start forcing companies to pay a ‘living wage’. Say it’s 20 an hour. Guess what’s gonna happen? The price of EVERYTHING will increase almost overnight, why? Because companies charge what the market will sustain for a product. If everyone is suddenly flush with cash, they will be able to pay more for an item. So housing will go up, and suddenly we are back where we started because the person making 20 an hour can’t ‘afford to live’ due to the price of goods in the market.
            Additionally if an unskilled worker is now making 20 an hour, someone who makes 30 an hour just got a 10 dollar pay cut. because the value of their work just decreased. They would then need to be paid a higher rate.
            And finally on this point, skilled workers, in demand workers get paid more because they are skilled and in demand. Unskilled workers get paid less. It’s a fact of life, and only 1 person can change that or prepare for that. The individual. Using responsibility.
            3) It’s next to impossible to save up.
            Well I agree here that it’s hard. That’s life. hard. No free passes (normally). It’s not impossible though. Unless they are eating bread and water and walking to 2 jobs everyday, there are ways to save. It may be a small amount, but you have to start somewhere. Cut out soda, eat in, brown bag it. Commute. A large percentage of people can cut at least 2% of their lifestyle to start saving up, they just choose not to.

            • LadyTL says:

              The thing is though at the end of the year, if you can only save a small amount, say 20 dollars a paycheck, that still means that you only have 480 dollars which is not enough to move into a new apartment. It’s enough for rent but not deposits or utilities unless you get a spectacular deal on a one bedroom. Though if you need more than a one bedroom you still are out of luck. Most minimum wage jobs average about 300 dollars a paycheck. That is not alot of money when you have to take into account: rent, utilities, food, medicine/doctor care, bills and anything else.

              • not-gonna-tell-ya says:

                I agree, but this doesn’t happen every year. apply this to a 5 year contingency (even though this is not likely to happen ever) and you will have 2,400 dollars. It may not be a lot of money, but having a 2400 dollar emergency fund will cover most curveballs life throws at you. Heck even 1,000 will cover many ’emergencies’ and not get you behind in the daily living expenses. That’s where most people get in trouble… “Oh, crap, my tires were slashed…emergency fund. Oh crap my transmission went out…emergency fund. Oh crap ‘{insert emergency here]….emergency fund.

                On a personal note for years I would always get behind at Christmas and then play catchup with bills until March because I never prepared myself to pay for gifts. It wasn’t an emergency and I knew exactly when Christmas was since it happens every year on the same day. Last year I decided to put money away each check. Not much, and I hardly noticed it (I actually set up a separate savings account at another bank so I wouldn’t even be tempted). Now, I’m not behind on bills, have all of the shopping done, and actually have a little extra. I’m not making more money, I just prepared. An additional bene is that I won’t be paying what amounts to hundreds of dollars in late fees on my bills in the coming months either. There is no substitute for preparation. Litigation comes close in this scenario though :)

                • David Doe says:

                  Some of you people don’t have any clue about reality. People are not poor because they want to be or because they are lazy or stupid. Yes, there are some but its a small minority of them. Many if not most people are poor because of things beyond their control. I know its comforting to think that people deserve what they get in life, but its simply not true, its also a sign of a weak and simplistic mind to assume it is true. The rich stay rich and poor stay poor in America the exceptions are rare and getting rarer.

                  • not-gonna-tell-ya says:

                    Simply not true. Is it hard to get ahead in life? Yes absolutely. Does the system seem rigged toward the rich? YUP. But there is a reason Warren Buffet is mega wealthy and it isn’t because it was given to him. Ever seen his house? Not a McMansion. He like other people lived UNDER their means in order to save their money. My house was about 150,000. I could have afforded 250,000 in monthly payments when I bought it. Thats what everyone else was doing and gettting approved for. Yet I should feel sorry for people that are underwater in their mortgage? F that. Their improper planning of life is to blame. The me, me, me, now, now, now mentality.

                    Then BAM, “unexpected” downturn in the economy and I’m not getting raises for years on end. I still pay extra on my house because I didn’t break off more than I can chew. Sure I suffered by not getting into a gated community with year old houses, and as I said, I drive a 10 year old car, not because I can’t afford new now, but because I want to be prepared for when (not if) I loose my job and can’t afford anything.

            • LadyTL says:

              No one is saying there needs to be a massive jump up in wages. For some reason though most people arguing against it always do. Paying 10 to 12 dollars an hour instead of 6-8 makes a world of difference for those of us at the bottom. With that small of an increase there would not be the massive price hike because honestly, most minimum wage worker’s money goes to bills and neccesities, not clothes or toys or gagdets like those in the higher incomes. Also there is really no such thing as unskilled labor. All jobs need some sort of training these days. It’s just the amount and type changes, some is on the job, some is in a school. As for your trying to say that there is some failure on the part of a person to be working in a minimum wage job, not everyone can afford to go to college, lots of people have been laid off from good jobs and now can’t get one that is the same level and everyone has to start somewhere. It’s a failure on your part to assume that all the blame for minimum wage falls on the head of the person with that job. Also with your reasoning, we should pay lawyers and IT people minimum wage because there is a glut in applicants for those jobs, hell we should do it anytime there is alot of applicants for a job because there is not enough of a demand for those jobs. Why not drop the pay if too many people apply for a job too? After all if there is that many qualified applicants, there is not that much of a demand for them.

              • not-gonna-tell-ya says:

                Technically pay does drop if there are a thousand applicants. If a hiring manager gets 5 qualified people interviewing and I want 100,000 a year for the position, and they want 50, 60, 70, and 80, who do you think is gonna get hired?

              • not-gonna-tell-ya says:

                Even a small (40 percent in your example) mandatory increase has consequences. If MCdonalds has to increase their payroll by 30% we’ll say, what do you think they will do? I think they will raise the price of their food. Then the consumer (the same person that just got a mandatory raise) will have to pay upwards of 30% more for their food. That goes for any company that uses “un-skilled” labor.
                Also, consider the less than ambitious person that went to a vocational colledge to work on widgets. With his training he pulled himself up a little and makes 12 to 14 dollars an hour. After your scenario, he just wasted his time and money to make what is now equivalant pay to flipping burgers. In addition to that his salary is now depressed because he has to pay more for lunch and everything else because the companies have to pay their workers more for the same level of production just to meet minimum wage.
                When I use the term “unskilled labor” it’s not an attempt at demeaning. But parsing the word skill like a former president does nothing to further the point. Yes every job on the planet requires skill of some sort, you have to have the skill to count and do simple math to be a register person, you have to have the skill to push a button to lower the fries in the vat at the fast food place. I used the term as most normal people have defined it for years. Don’t minimize the term to a basic function that most 12th graders have to make your point.

                I don’t blame people for working a minimum wage job. I just recognize that in the real world that people live in, everyone doesn’t get a trophy at the game. There are people who succeed and people who don’t succeed. And all in between. That is life. And there is no way to change it. Heck even in communism there are winners and losers (in the game sense, not the derrogatory sense).

                And as i said before if there are 5 people qualified for a job, you can nearly gurantee that the company will place a significant percentage of the final decision on what that person wants to be paid. No company will just choose the highest salaried request. If that were the case, companies wouldn’t be outsourcing to foreign countries where the same labor costs a couple thousand a year.

          • Beeker26 says:

            No, but it’s their responsibility to live within their means. People seem to forget they’re not entitled to any particular standard of living. If you can’t afford to pay for things then you need to find a way to do without. I know it sounds cold and callous, but them’s the facts of life here in America.

        • minjche says:

          Not sure about the lease used at this property or the local laws, but in my own experience, the leases I’ve signed have included a paragraph about how if the property becomes uninhabitable, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to find alternative housing until the original property can be made right again.

          • not-gonna-tell-ya says:

            Well, In that case, the law may be inadequately written to not require him to maintain proper funds in escrow to support the contract (or something like that). I could write a contract that says I’ll buy you a new island if your apt burns down, but it’s worthless if I’m broke.

            • minjche says:

              That’s a perfectly valid point, but my comment was in reply to your statement of:

              “But it isn’t someone elses duty to make sure you can find another place to live”

              So whether or not the landlord can or can’t fulfill that clause is one matter, whether he’s legally obligated may be outlined in the lease (or it may not be, like I said I don’t have access to their lease).

    • kc2idf says:

      Did you know that some folks have less income than expenses, and no fat left to trim? True story.

  10. Chmeeee says:

    I don’t really understand why the city can’t just foreclose on the property, or at least put a lien on it, and let the tenants continue to occupy the building (with water).

    • obits3 says:

      That would seem to work too. The city could make some money on the deal by getting rent payments.

    • DanRydell says:

      Who said anything about foreclosure? They just shut off the water. Presumably the residents were evicted because a building without running water is not considered inhabitable.

      • Chmeeee says:

        I said something about foreclosure. My point is it’s a better option than throwing 68 families out of their homes at Christmas and screwing them out of rent money & deposits. Given that this is a city and not a heartless corporation, I would think there would be some consideration given to the wellbeing of their residents.

      • Chmeeee says:

        I said something about foreclosure. My point is it’s a better option than throwing 68 families out of their homes at Christmas and screwing them out of rent money & deposits. Given that this is a city and not a heartless corporation, I would think there would be some consideration given to the wellbeing of their residents.

  11. Cyclone says:

    I recall stuff like this happening a few years ago with people renting houses and the landlord not paying the mortgage. Isn’t there something the tenants can do to prevent being evicted? It’s not their fault that the landlord didn’t pay the bill and they did nothing wrong. It’s pretty sick if the city can’t understand this and wants to put all these people out on their ass.

  12. ARPRINCE says:

    How about pooling their MONTH’ss rent to pay for the water instead of giving it to the LL. Just a thought.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      Then the landlord doesn’t make his mortgage payment and it goes into foreclosure. In every scenario, the tenants are going to be the victims. If the water isn’t being paid for, trash isn’t being picked up, and there’s no deposit money left, then things wont end well.

      This building will eventually be foreclosed on or slapped with a tax lien. Hopefully the next owner will be a more responsible landlord.

      • pot_roast says:

        Well, who knows if the landlord is paying that either. It’s possible that these same folks will find themselves booted out in two months because the place is getting foreclosed on.

  13. carefree dude says:

    Desperate people do desperate things. I could imagine this many of them could cause quite a problem

  14. Brunette Bookworm says:

    Why aren’t they getting their deposits back? I assume the landlord was irresponsible and spent it when he shouldn’t have but if they got that back many could use it for a deposit on another place. Some of these people are poor or are just making it. They’ve paid their bills and for them to get screwed over because someone else didn’t pay the bills sucks.

    I make enough to live on but not enough to come up with the money for a deposit and the first month’s rent on a new place in my area in 10 days. Should I have an emergency fund? Yeah, I should and I am saving money but when you don’t make much more than all your expenses it takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. Any of you who blame these people for not having the money for all that are just sitting in a position of privilege. They are not getting evicted for not paying their bills, they are getting evicted for having an idiotic landlord/complex owner. Considering the economy right now, these people were doing pretty well to have a job that let them pay their bills. They were told yesterday that the water is being shut off today. Also, the people at that complex who ran it were trying to help and they are all out of a job.


    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I’m guessing the past due water bill is just the tip of the iceberg and the landlord owes a lot of money elsewhere. The deposit money is probably long gone.

    • DanRydell says:

      They could get their deposit back, but good luck trying. You can’t get blood from a stone. If the landlord isn’t paying the water bill, he’s probably going to be bankrupt pretty soon.

      • bror says:

        I all depends on state laws though. In at least MA and NJ the deposit has to be deposited to an interest bearing escrow account that the landlord can’t touch. I he/she was in good standing when the apartment complex was built/bought, the deposit shouldn’t be an issue.

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          That’s the law in many states but is very rare in practice. I rented for a few decades and never got interest on my deposit.

        • quail says:

          The tenant is due the deposit back but I’ve never heard of them getting interest on the deposit. In most cases the interest would be just enough to cover the cost of managing the escrow account.

        • ARP says:

          Do you really think the same landlord that isn’t paying the water bill is complying with the law related to their deposits? Nope, the landlord will probably declare bankruptcy and start over. He’ll probably even keep his units.

  15. breese524 says:

    Here’s a solution. I’m not sure if it’s legal or even possible but, it’s an idea.

    1) Go after the landlord for the missing water payments.
    2) Shut off the water for all community areas.
    3) Install meters for every resident, have the residents pay for water.
    4) Bill each resident for trash collection (if this is also an issue).

    In other words, take the landlord out of the picture. I don’t know who should eat the cost of installing meters in each apartment unit. I do know that in the past, when I’ve been responsible for my unit’s water usage, there was a meter installed in my unit and it sent the usage data to a billing company.

    It seems that ultimately someone else may end up owning the apartment complex b/c if the landlord is not paying the water bill it is likely they are not paying other bills, possibly the mortgage. However, most good leases carry a clause that the lease must run it’s term before a new owner can change it.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      Ignoring all the legal issues, it might not even be possible without major renovation of the building. Somebody will still have to pay to reroute pipes and install meters.

      • breese524 says:

        Every unit should have a water shut off valve. You’d install the meter at that valve. The meter would be installed inside the unit, probably near the water heater.

        Could be a problem if they are not designed like that. Every apartment I’ve lived in was designed that way though.

        • Wombatish says:

          Most “big box” units down here in these areas aren’t.

          When they shut off my downstairs neighbor’s water because their washing machine is flooding, my water goes off too.

          Each ‘building’ (which is 8 units in our case, looks like more in theirs) has it’s own shutoff, and that’s part of why water is paid to the landlord in some cases. They -can’t- turn off your water if you don’t pay – the only option is to have you pay the landlord and he has the option to evict since it’s part of your rent.

  16. Krusty783 says:

    I don’t know about rental laws, but isn’t the landlord required to maintain the property in a livable condition (basic utilities, etc.). Failure to do so in this magnitude should violate the terms of the lease and give the renters a full refund of their deposit and all rent paid, imo.

    • BStu78 says:

      I think the issue with them not getting their deposits has less to do with the contractual obligations of the landlord and more to do with his lack of funds. They obviously have a right to their deposits back and refunded rent for December and possible accomidations arranged for the remainder of their lease. But if the landlord doesn’t have the capacity to deliver, there isn’t somewhere this can all magically come from.

      Its a shame if there wasn’t a better way to do this, but I imagine state laws might not give them a recourse other than stripping the landlord of his right to rent the apartments. I hope someone can step in with some help for the people the landlord screwed. And this guy needs to be held accountable as much as possible.

    • Gulliver says:

      No, the day the water is shut off, it became uninhabitable and no rent would be required from that day forward. The tenant can then go to court and say there has been a breach of contract. The landlord will be required to appear in court.
      The tenants should actually look into filing a class action suit against the landlord. Breach of contract would be easy to prove. Get a law firm immidately. Do not wait until the last day

  17. jimmyhl says:

    Recommendation to tenants: hold a meeting ASAP to elect a tenant representation committee whose responsibilities will be to run to Neighborhood Legal Services or the biggest law firm in Tulsa to get a TRO against the utility cutoff and seek other appropriate relief (injunction of the eviction, temporary housing, temporary relocation expenses, cash relief, etc.) The TRO will buy some time and the legal team can then seek a permanent injunction. These folks need to organize and act in a concerted, business-like way.

  18. runchadrun says:

    How about this simple solution:

    — The city puts a lien on the property for the unpaid water bill
    — The tenants pay their rent into an escrow account which is used to pay future water bills (among other bills I’m sure the owner hasn’t paid)

    As an aside apparently the owner of Pro Residential, Renuka S Jogani, was also owner of the infamous Northridge Meadows apartment complex that collapsed in the 1994 earthquake, killing 16 people.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      “The city puts a lien on the property for the unpaid water bill”

      That’s not an option everywhere (it required changing state law where I live) and if it is, there’s probably already a lien on the complex. The water bill is likely the tip of the iceberg. The landlord also isn’t paying for trash service and spent the deposit money. It’s only a matter of time before it’s foreclosed on, sold on the courthouse steps, or declared uninhabitable due to the sanitation/trash issues or other utilities being turned off.

      That being said, it would be nice if the water authority could give a two week stay to get the tenants through the end of the year.

    • Green10mm says:

      JOGANI, RENUKA S 842 MOORSIDE DR, GLENDALE, CA 91207 818-247-9808

  19. Cicadymn says:

    Hey I know those apartments! Glad I didn’t move in there.

    Downtown Broken Arrow FTW :3

  20. peebozi says:

    Now the government wants to limit the amount of time someone has to look for somewhere else to live.

  21. Azuaron says:

    For everyone who’s saying you can’t get blood out of a stone: you just aren’t thinking creatively enough. For instance, beat someone to death with a stone. Instant blood!

  22. Howie411 says:

    “”I have $20 in my checking account; I have two children that have been sick for the past three weeks. I barely make minimum wage. I don’t have the money for a deposit,” one young mother complained to reporters. “

    Why is she complaining to the reporters, what good will that do?

    • Brunette Bookworm says:

      Maybe because they interviewed her?

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      Seeing people already in dire straits have their lives made worse because some jackass didn’t pay his bills might draw more people to the story. Perhaps this will prompt someone to offer free legal services on behalf of the tenants, or a charity to extend emergency shelter. Putting a face on the issue makes it more intriguing.

    • brianisthegreatest says:

      Did you really have to ask that question; or are you truly so ignorant that personal testimonies and opinions have no value when presented to the media? Your head must be too far up your ass to make any sense of it I guess.

  23. Hoss says:

    This doesn’t make sense — 68 tenants can’t scrap together enough $$ to hire one lawyer?

    • YoungGod says:

      As a resident of Tulsa, I’d say no they cannot–these people are in one of the poorest areas of the city, mostly working-poor, without savings, and would be turned away from a bank loan even during the best of economic environments. This state has a huge population of ‘congenital poor’ coupled with the fact that Tulsa Public Schools are drop-out factories of outrageous proportions!

      I understand your thought, and wish it were possible too; but to carry the metaphor out, it would be like asking the residents in Detroit to put up cash to buy out their real estate so they don’t have to pay rent anymore.

      Except for the major charities, churches like the 3:16 Mission, and the state poverty programs, there are no groups of professionals who are really doing anything to aid the plight of the poor here. As a matter of fact, the only time the discussion of the poor comes up within city government is under the subject of:

      “What do we do about these terrible, dilapidated houses and apartments those poor people are befouling?”

      a)Seize on back property tax issues
      b)board up and eventually demolish
      c)give the land over to a land-developer (wink wink nudge nudge) who will build something that will generate more tax revenue for the city coffers! Like a new fast food joint! (The city’s budget is paid almost entirely by sales tax revenue! Have you ever heard of such a stupid thing? Very regressive.)

      • Hoss says:

        All lawyers are required to donate legal services over the year. They need to call a local legal aid office if they are needy

        There is no gov’t donation. The city needs to quickly seize the property and set up the RFP. That looks like a property rip for resale . If the landlord owes that much for water — they must owe several hundred thousand for property taxes. The city was not aggressive enough

  24. YoungGod says:

    As a resident of Tulsa, let me tell you that this city is very polarized by class; it was the last place for outlaws to escape justice to at the end of the 19th century (as Indian Territory), but then at the beginning of the 20th century, there was a huge influx of Northeastern Victorian Carpetbaggers who came here for the oil. Now there is a strange mix of utterly poor white trash and minority ghettos along with billionaires who worked hard (yeah right) to inherit vast fortunes and maintain a stronghold on City and County government.

    That said, what should happen here is that the city should seize the property from the landlord and set-up a cooperative to in order to allow the residents to pay their normal rent and receive their services. I mean, the CITY OWNS THE WATER COMPANY!!!!!

    City government is so corrupt with the offspring of the wealthy, that there is literally NO WAY the mayor or city council will do one thing for these people.

    Such is life for the poor of the USA! Where poverty isn’t an economic situation but a character flaw!

  25. failurate says:

    Couldn’t the water bill just be rolled onto the property taxes. Owner doesn’t pay, the city takes ownership of the property.

  26. chiieddy says:

    The city is delaying two weeks. The follow-up is at the bottom of the original News on 6 article:


  27. Hi_Hello says:

    Oklahoma has some weird laws.. you only need 10 days to evict someone? who evicting the tenant?? The water department? the city? Can they do that? I thought all they can do is shut the water.

    If I live in a place with no water, I”ll just go buy some water bottles.

    Something doesn’t add up unless Oklahoma only need 10 days notice to evict…

    • Winter White says:

      In most places, running water is required by the health department for a building to be occupied. The water company has to report water being shut off to the health department in most cases.

      The eviction rules generally don’t apply in situations where a building has been deemed uninhabitable by the department of health.

  28. DCXC says:

    The city has extended the deadline to January 3rd and has a trash company coming out to clear the dumpsters.


  29. sweetgreenthing says:

    Why are the tenants being held responsible for a landlord’s problem? It’s not like the correspondence between the water authority and the landlord gets forwarded to every single tenant so they could intervene. I really hope to see this worked out so the tenants can stay, abiding by their lease agreements- and the landlord get insanely screwed in all possible ways.

  30. ZIMMER! says:

    There is an update: http://www.fox23.com/news/local/story/City-Of-Tulsa-Delays-Eviction-Of-Tenants/CfQqZbpWV0GH0iTTOf5fiA.cspx
    The city will not turn of water yet….

    My question is why is the owners name NOT stated?
    They should state the losers name and shame him/her/them into paying.

  31. quail says:

    It is sad, but because of it I do hope that Oklahoma and other states look to put legislation on the books that protects tenants from stupid/greedy/negligent landlords in this regard. This type of thing has happened before, but I fear as the real estate shake down continues that there will be more landlords who fail to pay their bills and it’s the tenants who suffer the most.

    I’ve heard of condo owners who’ve pulled together and fought in the courthouse to take control of property that was essentially abandoned by the developer — high rises that depended on maintenance services that weren’t being done because the developer fled the country when the bubble burst. But what about a tenant that rents? Seems that they have even less power and they usually have fewer resources.

  32. aka_mich says:

    Is it just me or does this sadly seem like a brilliant get rich scheme until someone gets the common sense to close this loophole. I mean it’s so simple that I’m surprised we don’t hear it more. You buy a property, collect rent, and don’t pay a dime on the mortgage or utilities. The only adverse affect it seems is the damage to your credit after defaulting on the property but you’re still all the rent paid and no recourse for the tenant to recoup it.

    Someone needs to look at this now or I fear more and more of these cases are going to start cropping up.

  33. Kestris says:

    So they punish the residents for the landlord’s stupidity AND refuse to refund the rent they paid for services not rendered. Nice.

  34. StevePierce says:

    Appoint a master to garnish rent payments for the Water Dept. Eviction first is stupid.

  35. Jerem43 says:

    The city should take the damn building. Plain and simple. Once they do that the city’s Department of Housing can administer the building and collect the rent. They can auction the building off later. There is no reason why these people should be kicked out if they were acting in good faith.

  36. dush says:

    Every tenant should leave all their water faucets running fully until they day they are forced to leave and really rack up that water bill for their delinquent land lord.

  37. stonny9 says:

    The tenants should sell the appliances on CL when they move out. It would net them a few hundred dollars.

  38. FrugalFreak says:

    “They will not receive their deposits back”

    By law they better!

  39. SolidSquid says:

    Why not just get the tenants to pay their rent directly to the water company until the bill is payed? That way the landlord would be punished, the company would be paid and the tenants would get to keep their homes

  40. maruawe says:

    Why not leave the people in the apartments to pay rent until the water bill is paid in full instead of putting these people out of their homes , Stupid makes you wonder whats in their minds. if no one is in the apartments then the water company loses in the long run because the money owed is not collectible until the place is sold which could take a long time…. Shear stupidity on a state governments part.

  41. LordXar says:

    This happened to me and my family. We were renting for 3+ years and the out of town landlord just stopped paying the mortgage but kept taking my rent check. We didn’t find out until the sheriff showed up with an eviction notice.
    I’m sure nothing bad happened to the landlord. But I had to move my 3 bedroom house twice in the span of 4 months because of it. My wife was pregnant at the time and my other daughter was only 3. The company that bought my house had no interest in renting to use even though we only needed it for 60 days.
    I wish I could do something to that bastard. Sue him for the move costs, lawyer costs, rent he owes me and the pain and suffering of the worst 2 months of my life.