OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – New potential trouble for the entities that run the Foxcroft Apartments, the Northwest Oklahoma City apartment complex that’s had no heat at all this entire winter.
A legal motion has been filed against them, accusing them of violating a court order that states they can’t charge or accept rent from tenants until the heat is back on.
“We are asking the court to hold these defendants in contempt of court because they are continuing to take rent from the tenants at Foxcroft in direct violation of an order of the court prohibiting them from doing that,” said Ryan Owens, an attorney representing some of the Foxcroft tenants.
The motion was filed March 23 in association with a lawsuit they filed in January against owner Foxcroft owner Foxcroft Exchange, LLC and Regional Management Co.
The court order from Oklahoma County District Judge Anthony Bonner concerning no rent acceptance was issued Jan. 14.
Owens said Foxcroft management didn’t do a good job of getting the message across to tenants and he has been notified of at least five who have paid rent since the temporary injunction was issued.
“They could have provided notice, a little slip of paper on everyone’s door to provide an update,” he explained. “But probably the more practical way to have done this was just simply when someone came into the office to pay rent would be to say, ‘well, right now we cannot accept that rent.'”
KFOR reached out to attorney Lisa Molsbee who represents Regional Management Co., one of the defendants in the case. She sent us the following statement:
“Foxcroft Exchange and Regional Management do not believe that they have violated the Court’s order. A very small number of tenants, five of approximately 100, have paid rent either through the online payments system or by placing payments in the rent drop box, despite the Court’s instructions that rent does not need to be paid. The owner and the management company have not made any attempts to collect rent. Any monies that have been inadvertently collected are in the process of being or will be returned or refunded to the tenants.
Prior to our ownership the property was in grave disrepair. We regret the inaction of the former owner in creating these living conditions for Foxcroft residents. Part of the property renovations in process include restoring the central heat which requires a full property gas line replacement, as well as full HVAC replacement in almost every unit—a monumental task in any environment, especially one suffering from supply chain shortages. As the new owner and manager, we are working diligently get the process completed, and it will be completed soon.
As the new owner and management company of the complex, we are working to make the apartment community a place that we all can be proud of. In the meantime, we are making every effort to make our tenants comfortable– including providing hotel rooms and transportation free of charge, supplying hundreds of portable space heaters, and allowing tenants to break their leases without consequence. Despite the current difficulties, we have had new tenants seeking to move into the property after having seen the renovations being made by the new owners/managers as they seek to improve the property, though new applications are not being accepted at this time.”LISA MOLSBEE, ATTORNEY
Meanwhile, Owens has discovered another apartment complex that has had heating issues this winter, and it’s run by the same management as Foxcroft – Wehner Multifamily, LLC.
“At Hillcrest Residence Apartments, we were contacted by an individual that lives there indicating that she had not had heat in her building for over a year,” he said. “So, I went out and visited with some of the residents. It appears that that issue is isolated to one building that has anywhere in the neighborhood of 20 to 25 units in that building that have been without heat for a year.”
He also shared another detail from his investigation
“I was able to confirm with an agent of the property management company, which is Wehner Multifamily LLC, that the heat in that particular building has been out for a year.”
Wehner Multifamily is not being sued at this time, but Molsbee explained it’s a third-party management company that Regional Management has an agreement with to manage the Foxcroft apartments.
In January, Alex Dotson, A regional director of operations for Wehner Multifamily told KFOR the following concerning the situation at Foxcroft, “Our organization began managing Foxcroft apartments very recently. During our initial evaluation of the property, we discovered that the property did not have heat. Taking care of our residents is our top priority and we are actively working to remedy the situation.”
On Thursday, KFOR met with Monesha Minter, the Hillcrest apartments tenant that reached out to Owens. She said not having heat for the past year is especially unacceptable because of how the cold winter weather has negatively affected her one-year-old son, who already has a heart condition.
“It’s been a challenge,” she said. “My son has a heart condition, and he has quite a few medical problems already. And then for him to constantly be cold and his lips are shivering, and his lips are turning blue. We’ve had to buy extra blankets and spend so much time trying to seal off the windows and get blackout curtains and things to keep the heat in, put blankets on at nighttime. I mean, we’ve literally laid awake at night just like shivering, just so cold.”
She said the leasing office manager isn’t helping her.
“Well, the manager says it’s not her issue, that it’s the owner’s issue and that she’s brought it to her upper management’s attention several times,” Minter explained. “They just keep telling her that they’re working on it. It’s been a year now that they’re ‘just working on it.’ So, we’ve never gotten direct answers about when it’ll be fixed or how it will be fixed or what they can do in the meantime until they can get it fixed.”
Minter said she’ll be taking her son to live with family or stay at a hotel soon.
“He has heart surgery coming up, and we can’t bring him back here,” she said emphatically. “There’s no way.”
KFOR visited the Hillcrest leasing office and the present manager said of the heating allegations, “I’m not able to speak on that. Things are taken care of.”
She also confirmed with us that Hillcrest is managed by Wehner Multifamily.
KFOR reached out to Wehner Multifamily Thursday concerning heating at both apartment complexes and are waiting to hear back.