Treehouse Apartment residents struggle with water issues, management

[anvplayer video=”5150404″ station=”998122″]

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Multiple residents at Treehouse Apartments in northeast Albuquerque say they have not had hot water since before Thanksgiving. But now we learned there’s much more to the situation.

This back and forth over the water being turned on then off, sometimes hot mostly not, apparently didn’t start last Wednesday. Multiple tenants say this has been on since this past summer.

“Ya, the cold water is on but there is no hot water,” one tenant, who didn’t share his name, turns his kitchen sink back and forth from hot to cold. But water only comes out of the faucet when it is turned to the cold setting.

This is what tenants at Treehouse Apartments have been dealing with in their kitchens and bathrooms since before Thanksgiving.

A representative from Living Well, the company that owns Treehouse Apartments, returned our call Tuesday. To explain what they say started this mess.

“During this time we did need to shut off water to two units,” Marketing Director Emily Sheiner said. “We did everything we could to reach out to a plumber that is specialized in a boiler system but because it was a holiday, and we were just missing this one part, and the store that sold the part was closed for the holiday, so we did have to hold off the permanent repair until Monday.”

On Monday, we spoke to two tenants who have faced the brunt of these water issues even having parts of their apartment flooded. They say management hasn’t given them any updates about when the issue will be resolved. And when they went to the leasing office after the holiday weekend they found it was still closed with a sign on the door.

Sheiner tells us last Wednesday a leak in building 12 lead to the water being turned off in those two units. But when we talked to other tenants Tuesday we found out water was also shut off in buildings 10, 11, and 13 — there has been no hot water for nearly a week.

“I live in building 13, and I had- the water was shut off all day,” Crystal Childer said. “I’m going to tell you about the last seven days starting on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving the water was shut off, and I haven’t had hot water since.”

Childer says this isn’t the first time she has had to go long stints not knowing if her faucets will work when she reaches for the handle.

“The water has been consistently shut off. Sometimes it’s the hot water, sometimes it’s all of the water,” Childer said, “This summer I just started marking in black the days the water was shut off because it was happening so consistently.”

Back in August, during a 12-day span, Childers says she didn’t have water for eight of those days

Childer says has tried to move out because of these issues, but Treehouse management says she will have to pay more than $2,000 to break her lease.

“In the rental agreement you have to go a full 48 hours without water. So what they do is they turn the water back on super, super late at night, so technically you didn’t have a full 48 hours without water,” Childer explains. “They know what the laws are, they know what the rules are, and they do everything they can to duck and get around them so that we are stuck in this lease with them and we can’t do anything about it.”

But there might be something they can do about it.

We spoke to a representative from New Mexico Legal Aid about renters rights. While they can’t speak to specific cases, they gave this general advice:

If a tenant notifies a landlord, in writing, of a major issue (like not having hot water) and the landlord does not fix it in seven days, under New Mexico law, the tenant can withhold a third of their daily rent until the issue is fixed.

If the tenant has to move out because of an issue (like not having running water) and that problem is not fixed in seven days, the tenant can withhold 100% of daily rent.

Another step tenants can take is calling the city or county code enforcement and request their apartment’s complex be inspected for violations. And if they find severe issues the entire apartment could be closed.