Gas still off at The Social Apartments as cold weather moves in

Cold temperatures are bringing additional concerns to renters at The Social apartments in southeast Austin. 

Gas at that property has been shut off for a week, so people at the complex are relying on space heaters to get them through the cold snap. Management says the gas has been shut off since last Monday "as a safety measure and to allow for repairs." 

“As you can imagine, without any gas or without any heat to heat our homes, as the temperature drops, I only get more and more concerned,” said Nick Rodriguez who has lived at The Social for three years.  

Rodriguez said after five days with no heat whatsoever, the leasing office finally provided space heaters for renters Friday.

The first real test will be weathering Monday’s cold front. 

“I don't know if these space heaters will quite cut it, but we're going to bundle up and stay close together,” Rodriguez said.   

His troubles started when Texas Gas Service responded to the property for a report of a gas odor and located a leak. 
In a statement to FOX 7 Austin, Christy Penders, a utility company spokesperson wrote in part, "...As a safety precaution, we disconnected natural gas service to the property until the property owner is able to make repairs and pass a city inspection. Once the complex passes the city inspection, Texas Gas Service will work to restore gas service to the complex..." 

Since then, renters have been without hot water, central heat, or gas to cook on the stove. Meanwhile, the property still hasn't passed the required inspections. 

“Every time we get an update, they seem to find more leaks. So, as you can imagine, it's very aggravating,” said Rodriguez. 

According to management, they are certain of two leaks and that the lines had been inspected and repaired as of last week. They say they are waiting on final inspections to be completed.

Some relief for renters came Monday. After an Austin code officer visited the complex, FOX 7 Austin received this update from Lucero Arechiga with the Austin Code Department: "As of this morning, management has provided temporary boilers to heat water, as well as portable heaters and hot meals. They have also relocated some tenants to the Red Roof Inn. We will continue to follow up to ensure compliance of this property." 

Rodriguez said he's grateful for the temporary fixes, but he's ready to rally his neighbors to fight for more.

“We need a little bit of help here. It feels like the apartment complex is doing what they can, but it's not enough and it's really not with these cold temperatures on the way. So, you bet I'm frustrated and you bet I want to do something about this situation. Hopefully, my neighbors feel the same way,” Rodriguez said.  

Renters have started a Facebook page to explore their options.

Management says the gas lines had recently passed an inspection by the Railroad Commission so they say the leak was "an immediate and acute problem" and that their staff and plumbing professionals "reacted within minutes to the report of a gas leak."

A statement from management reads:

"Please keep in mind, our residents are of utmost importance to us. We know that there is inconvenience to this problem that is taking longer to get resolved than any of us would like. It is why our employees are spending much of their personal time to attend to the resident needs. We are so proud of our team for taking ownership and tirelessly working to resolve the problems to expedite the process of getting the gas turned back on."