Houston apartments found with dangerous, unsanitary issues

Channel 2 Investigates visits units with rat infestations, feces problems, more

By Joel Eisenbaum - Investigative Reporter , Tera Roberson - Special Projects Producer

HOUSTON - In apartment complexes all over Houston, residents are upset and complaining.

Channel 2 Investigates has reviewed thousands of tenant complaints reported to the city of Houston’s 311 service center, made by frustrated residents fed up with their landlords' lax response to their complaints.

The neglected issues include bizarre noises coming from light fixtures and human waste bubbling up from an exposed sewer pipe -- and even downright dangerous situations, such as a shaky second-floor guardrail.

The first on the list, with 62 complaints, is Woodscape Apartments, located at 9707 S. Gessner.

There, tenants complained of plumbing issues, including no hot water for months at a time.

Evelyn Montero is a resident in the complex. She said the problems started as soon as she moved in.

“When we first moved in, that toilet was cracked," Montero said. "We weren't using it because of that. We put in a notice (with maintenance) to let them know what was broken."

It wasn’t until her leaky toilet caused a problem in another unit that maintenance paid attention to her complaint.

“It took them a while. That didn't get fixed until it leaked downstairs,” Montero said.

KPRC 2 News visited her complex and while there, we witnessed feces bubbling up from an underground sewage pipe.

So we made a stop by the management office to discuss the complaints. We were told the manager wasn’t in at the time but would be back in an hour.

We returned an hour later, but instead of getting an opportunity to speak with the manager about the complaints made by Montero and other residents, we found the door to the management office locked. We could clearly see people inside the office, but we weren’t welcome inside.

We visited the complex days later, and Councilman Mike Laster tagged along. He knows the place well.

Woodscape Apartments has been cited 63 times by the city of Houston in the last several years for serious deficiencies.

And after we showed him the video of the feces bubbling up from the underground pipe, he said he would contact the Health Department.

“We're going to ask them to come over here and do an immediate inspection,” said Laster.

Within hours, a city inspector was at the complex. And we’ve learned the Houston Police Department is now investigating Woodscape Apartments' management team for possible criminal neglect of the property.

We were able to get things moving at Woodscape Apartments, but there are several other apartments on the list.

Ranking No. 2 on the list with 88 complaints to 311 is Villa De Cancun, located at 9450 Woodfair. Residents' complaints ranged from plumbing issues to no air conditioning and even mold in units.

No. 3 on the list with 87 complaints to 311 is El Paraiso, located at 7700 Corporate Drive. Residents of El Paraiso complained of fleas in the carpet, holes in the all and mold in their bathrooms.

The No. 4 complex on the list, with 48 complaints, is Streamside Place, located at 5335 W. Gulf Bank, where residents complained of no air conditioning in their units, bedbugs and a rat infestation.

Crofton Place Apartments at 9555 Crofton Place had 46 complaints from residents. The complaints ranged from raw sewage running in common areas, to bedbugs to crime.

One of the residents we met showed us her apartment. The carpet was riddled with stains, some as big as 10 inches wide.

As she took us on a tour of her apartment, she said, “This is the conditions they moved us in. You see the carpet? I moved in with the carpet like this. As you can see, the air does not work. It has not worked since I moved in Feb. 15.”

And in the bedroom closet, there was mold on the carpet from a leak in the bathroom. The resident said she’s complained to management but they have not made any repairs. She also had no air conditioning in her unit.

Frustrated, she said, “I've complained. I have a 2-month-old.”

When we asked what they tell her when she complains, she said, “We'll get around to it.”

Laster offered us tips to help tenants get resolution to their rental-related issues:

  • Try to resolve the issue with the landlord
  • If no action, call 311 and get a case number
  • Call 311 weekly for status update on your case
  • If there's no action, call your councilman’s office; find your council member’s phone number by entering your address in the link provided: http://www.houstontx.gov/council/whoismycm.html.

For more information about renter’s rights and how to complain to your landlord, visit the Houston Apartment Association. The HAA also offers a list of some of the top apartments in Houston. For the list, click the link below:

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2016 Click2Houston.com/KPRC 2