8 families suing SE Austin Apartment complex for poor living conditions

From having no water for days on end, to rodent infestations, some local apartment tenants said they've had enough. 8 families are suing and have said they are being forced to live in poor conditions that are against the law.

The families allege the property managers at Fairway Apartments in Southeast Austin have repeatedly and unlawfully shut off their water and electricity with little or no notice, ignored rats and cockroaches, and have threatened to evict tenants if they don't pay thousands of dollars they said they don't actually owe.

Rosemary Martinez said she has lived at the Fairway Village apartment complex for several years. She said the complex has been fined up until about a year ago. Because of recent construction, residents said they are going without water or electricity for several days with little or no notice.

“There's no reason why we have to live like this. All the other buildings got moved out and they were going to have construction, but we were still dealing with the water cut offs we were still dealing with holes,” Martinez said.

Among having health issues, Martinez takes care of her daughter and grandchildren. “They don't understand, I deal with a sickness that I have to deal with, and I have cancer. It's tiring, because they don't understand we have to live here. We have kids that we have to feed and give baths too, and without no water it's impossible,” she said.

Residents have reportedly had to deal with rodent infestations.

Martinez said, “They give us the sticky things to put on the ground to catch them ourselves. They said there's nothing we can do about it, we will call pest control (but) pest control never came out.

Martinez also said residents warned property managers prior to severe flooding in October that construction workers blocked the drainage system.

“Our cars got flooded because they covered the drainage, and it drained out and it got full of water, they couldn't do anything about it,” Martinez said several of their vehicles were heavily damaged.

Attorney Brian McGiverin is representing the 8 families.

“Tenants have rights under the law. Rights that require a landlord to maintain minimal level of habability in apartments. The management of this complex has been violating those rights, and in many ways the apartments are not habitable in the way that the law requires."

Fairway Village Apartments is a section 8 property, which means they give reduced rates to low-income families. Martinez said she can't afford to live anywhere else. “If I had better health, I would have my job still, I would have had my house, I wouldn't been here, I wouldn't have to go through this. Just because we live here doesn't mean we have to get the treatment we are getting.

Fox 7 did reach out to the apartment complex for comment and they referred us to the corporate office in California. We tried to contact them, but didn’t hear back.

McGiverin said the next step in this case is discovery, and then going to trial.

For more information about Austin City Code Enforcement, you can click here.

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