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North Austin Apartment Complex Residents Struggle Without Heat, Gas
Residents in a north Austin apartment complex have been without gas since Saturday.
Crews are working to locate and fix a leak in the gas line. Until that happens, there is no hot water, no heat and no way to cook a hot meal for anyone living at the Austin Commons Apartments located at 1630 Rutland Drive.
For resident Leslie Coleman and her four-year-old daughter, that means cold showers and cold meals in a cold apartment.
“It's so inconvenient,” Coleman complained. “The apartments are bad. I’m ready to get out of my lease, and I’ve only been here for three months.”
After a weekend without working gas lines, residents complained to Austin’s Code Compliance office. Compliance officers have been at the complex since Monday to make sure the repair work is getting done.
“It's a manageable situation,” said Code Compliance Supervisor Terry Hurd. “It's just going to take a little bit of patience for them to find that leak.”
But while the work is being done, the apartment complex is still required to provide residents with housing necessities, like hot water, heat, sanitary conditions, etc.
“They are responsible, as owners renting out dwellings, they are responsible for property management codes to apply that,” explained Hurd. “Now how they do that, with this type of situation, I would say they are trying to accommodate them as best they can.”
“Everybody here is really pissed off, upset, but this is what we have to go through,” said resident Vontenette Robinson. “I don't think they're really too concerned about it because they don't live over here, we do.”
Robinson isn’t happy about the way the apartment complex is providing the “necessities.” She says the apartment complex offered hot plates to cook hot food, but didn’t have enough for all the residents. She’s also unhappy with the portable showers that were delivered to the complex parking lot on Thursday as a way to provide water while the gas is turned off.
“As far as me coming outside in a booth, taking a shower, no I'm not going to do that. That's disrespectful,” said Robinson.
If temperatures get much colder, code compliance officials have said the apartment complex will also be required to provide space heaters to residents.
But as long as their basic needs are being met, there is little else residents can do, besides make the best of an uncomfortable situation while the repairs are being made. Right now, there is no timeline for when the gas leak will be repaired.
By Karen Kiley