Landlord cuts heat at night in apartments, citing high maintenance costs

The owner of an apartment complex in Highland Park recently put his tenants on a staggered heating plan and the drastic measures tenants are taking to stay warm is putting them at risk.

- For some apartment dwellers in Highland Park, they're spending their nights freezing and relying on ovens for warmth. Why? They say the landlord keeps turning off the heat, despite the city ordering him to stop the practice.

This week has seen some of the coldest temperatures of the season in Metro Detroit yet the people who live in Woodford Apartments have had their heat cut. Rosie Johnson said it's not just cold, it makes it hard to move.

"I have arthritis, I have to be at work at 8 o'clock in the morning. It's so cold when I get up, I can't even move," Johnson said.

A notice posted last week says the units are getting what's called staggered heat, meaning on some days, the heat will only kick on between 5pm and 11pm, and its starting to affect people's health. People like Chiquita Freeman are resorting to a dangerous method of keeping themselves warm.

"I have to turn on the stove and let it run all night. It's not good because I'm afraid to sleep because of my daughter," Freeman said.

She's not the only one using her oven; Carol Webb is doing the same.

"I have to turn the oven on and the stove," Webb said.

The owner of the apartments is Victor Grant. He lives in California and told FOX 2's Hannah Saunders that he took over the building over a month ago and had to cut the heat to save money. He also says he is trying to rehabilitate this building but it needs tens of thousands of dollars in repairs, including some burst pipes.

That means it's not just the heat that's getting cut off, it's the water too.

"I had a pipe yesterday bust in my hall upstairs. I had to call at night time because of the water on my floor, Janice Lindsey said.

With more complaints filed, the Fire Marshall is stepping in to investigate. Jerome Black met with the building manager and owner via conference call, and is issuing him a ticket.

"They did have a couple of water breaks and the heat was off. They told me heat was off to fix the water breaks but after a couple of interviews, I found out that the heat had been off for a couple of weeks," Black said. "Today I'm going to cite him for heating his building in an improper way -  that's through heating the home through residential stoves."

Meanwhile the owner tells us, he will allow anyone out of their lease who wants to leave, free of fines, as long as they give a 30 day notice.


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