DICKINSON, Texas – Residents living at a Dickinson apartment complex learned of an emergency order to vacate due to lack of hot water, which is creating an unsafe environment, the notice letter read.
According to the notice on Nov. 30, the city of Dickinson Building Official, with approval and consent of the city manager, issued an emergency order at the Creekside Apartments, located at 406 Deats Rd.
“Today, we had an emergency order go through that’s going to shut down the property and everybody will have 30 days to leave the property,” said Mayor Sean Skipworth.
Mayor Skipworth said families living at Creekside Apartments have until Jan. 1, 2023 to move out. The city’s emergency order, which later this week will be posted on each apartment door, cites a lack of functioning boiler or hot water, creating an unsafe condition for the residents of the property.
Residents like Jennifer Winn have been boiling water for baths and cooking for a month. Winn said she recently suffered second-degree burns on one of her hands and foot while boiling water to fill a bathtub for her two children.
“It burned my foot. It spilled. There was a huge blister and I had to go to the hospital,” Winn said. She also said she’s been without hot water for a month. During our previous visits, residents complained to KPRC2 about raw sewage, mounting trash and other problems.
On Sept. 28, the city gave property owners 60 days to address what they called substandard issues. That deadline expired on Nov. 27.
Ahmet Kalkan, who is one of the property owners, said he has attempted to make repairs during that window, but the city of Dickinson tied his hands. He said one of the two boilers on the property works, but the code officials won’t allow him to turn it on until the other boiler, which leaked gas, was replaced.
“They’re the ones that are not letting me make the repairs, and they’re the ones telling all the residents this is unlivable (and) they need to demolish the property, so there’s something really fishy going on here,” Kalkan said.
Mayor Skipworth said building inspectors stopped a work order on the boiler because it was unregistered and had a serial number that was scratched out.
Kalkan said the property was damaged during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. He said they recently took over the property in August after the previous owners couldn’t afford to make the repairs. He said he plans to work with an inspector from the State of Texas Thursday to try to restore hot water to residents.
The mayor said it was a little too late.
“I think it’s fairly galling that for months and months and months he doesn’t fix a thing, and then the day that we issue to shut it down, he says ‘aw shucks, I been wanting to fix it,’” Skipworth said.
The mayor said city council members will discuss providing financial assistance to the residents at their Dec. 14 meeting. He said they’re also working with M.I.Lewis to help Creekside residents relocate, but they would need to fill out an online application.
Leslie Burgoyne, Managing Attorney for LoneStar Legal Aid in Galveston said she’s also helping tenants file a lawsuit against the property for protections under the Texas Property Code.
“When a landlord fails to make repairs to a property, the tenant has some options, they can either terminate their lease or they can file a lawsuit and force the repairs,” Burgoyne said.