Deteriorating Conditions, Suspended Utility Service Leave Low-Income Tenants In Limbo With Financially Strapped Landlord, Foreclosing Lender
In Las Cruces, New Mexico, the Las Cruces Sun News reports:
- Narine Rodriguez had brought her 2-day-old baby home for only an hour. "I am hoping there is not carbon monoxide here," said the 27-year-old single mom while standing with one foot propping open the apartment door at the Madrid Manor, 202 W. Madrid in Las Cruces.
- She stood with a group of other tenants who gathered Wednesday afternoon outside her apartment to address what they say is an intolerable situation throughout their complex: roofs leaking and ceilings caving in, bath tubs held together with duct tape, inoperable toilets, neglected heaters they fear may be leaking poisonous carbon monoxide and - the final holiday topper - no water service until late Wednesday, when it was restored.
- "I don't have any water, nothing running out of the sink," said Monica Salazar, a mother of five children ranging from 3 years of age to 10. She had just arrived home with her kids to find empty water pipes. "I don't know how I'm going to cook now. Obviously, I will have dishes to wash. My kids need to be bathed," said the 31-year-old, who said she always pays rent and bills promptly.
- "I will call the landlord, but you can never reach them," she said. "All you get is the answering machine. I don't know what I'm going to do."
- It's a problem that has tenants stuck between their low-income status and a landlord mired in a foreclosure that she says limits her responsiveness to tenant complaints about deteriorating living conditions and suspended utilities.
- The landlord, who tenants identified as Cheryl Butler, had her published office number disconnected. Butler is listed on the Realtor.com as an agent for Abstract Real Estate and Rentals, [...] in Las Cruces.
- When contacted on her cell phone, Butler said the Madrid Manor property had been foreclosed on and that she was not responsible for paying its bills. Butler said she was aware the water had been temporarily turned off and had done all she could to remedy it.
- But, she said, it was the responsibility of "the bank" to pay the water bill and that she could not do anything without the bank's permission. "I can only do what the bank allows me to do," said Butler. When asked for the identity of the bank, she said she could not recall the name, adding: "I only report to the person I report to, and he deals with the bank." When asked for the name of person who reported to the bank, Butler declined to give that person's name.
For the story, see Apartment foreclosure leaves tenants in limbo.