Colorado Springs Utilities: Tenants could lose water, gas if landlord doesn't pay

April 10, 2014 Updated: April 10, 2014 at 8:22 pm
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Pine Creek Village Apartments.

Gas and water service to scores of apartments in a southern Colorado Springs complex could be shut off early next month because the landlord hasn't paid the bill, Colorado Springs Utilities said.

Residents of the Pine Creek Village apartments on Chapman Drive off South Murray Boulevard were warned of the possible shutdown Wednesday with letters and information hung on doorknobs, Utilities spokesman Steve Berry said. They were told that unless the bills get paid, the services will be shut off in 30 days.

"We sincerely hope this issue can be resolved in the near future to avoid future discontinuance of electric, gas, water and wastewater services," Utilities wrote in a letter to residents. "We genuinely understand discontinuing utility services to the complex can cause hardship on the tenants, and it is our hope this matter can be resolved with few impacts."

A woman who answered the phone at Pine Creek Village said managers there wouldn't discuss the situation.

"Nobody is going to talk to a reporter," she said.

Berry said the 300-unit complex, like many others throughout the city, charges tenants for gas and water, then pays the utility bills. At issue are utilities shared between units that are billed to a common meter handled by the landlord.

Part of the utility bill, in this case electricity, is billed directly to tenants if their apartments have individual electric meters.

"A lot of these poor folks who live in this complex - they pay their utilities as part of the monthly rent," Berry said. "The property management company is supposed to pay their utility bill with that rent payment."

Instead, the utility said, water and gas payments have been slow in coming. The threat to disconnect services is a last-gasp attempt to get the money.

"This is unprecedented for us locally to be in this situation with a property management company," Berry said. "There are a lot of apartment complexes who handle utilities in a similar way."

Utilities identified the property manager as Resident Management Systems, a firm controlled by Terry Ragan.

A woman who answered the phone at Resident Management Systems in Colorado Springs said "there is no comment" and hung up when asked about the utilities issue.

Berry said Springs Utilities is tired of carrying the past-due bill.

"We have been in arrears situation with RMS (Resident Management Systems) off and on for years," Berry said. "We reach a point where we can't do that any more."

One option is for apartment dwellers to come up with the cash to keep the gas and water flowing.

"Occupants may avoid discontinuance by paying the next regular bills, not including the past due amounts, in full with cash or certified funds within 30 days of the bill being issued," Utilities wrote in its letter to tenants.

In many cases, though, many apartments are tied to a single meter, making it difficult to come up with individual bills, even if tenants wanted to pay.

So, the utility is telling tenants to take up their concerns with the property's managers.

"Your first step as a tenant is to call them and air your concerns," Berry said. "We as a utility can't mediate a tenant and landlord issue."

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