OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A new month, a big winter storm and still no heat for those living at the Foxcroft Apartments in Northwest Oklahoma City.
OKC was hit with its first significant snowfall Wednesday.
The tenants of the apartment complex tell KFOR they were dreading this night because they know a winter storm brings frigid temperatures along with a lot of precipitation. It’s a great headache added to their months-long problem: the entire complex not having heat at all since at least September.
Because of the inclement weather, Foxcroft management offered to pay for tenants to stay at a nearby motel for a week. Many of them accepted the offer and will spend the next several days at the Traveler’s Inn and Suites three miles away on South MacArthur Boulevard.
One of those is tenant Cathy Chatmon.
“I mean, it’s warm [but] it’s not the best place, but it beats where we’re at,” she said while sitting on her motel bed.
She wonders what she and the other tenants staying there will have to do after the severe winter weather passes.
“So this one week, we’re warm for this week, but what are we supposed to do the rest of the winter?” she asked. “I’m just at my wit’s end. I think this is just to hold us over, trying to pacify us.”
The complex also provided tenants space heaters, which many are appreciative of, but for tenants like Sandra Hickey, it hasn’t been helpful.
“It looks like a nice one, but I can’t use it because it’ll blow a breaker,” she said while explaining her unit’s problematic electricity that can’t handle the heater’s energy. “If I use even the coffee pot, I have to turn all heaters off. If I have to use the microwave, I have to turn all heaters off.”
Ryan Owens, the attorney representing some of the Foxcroft residents, said the complex isn’t being urgent about helping the tenants. He said they’ll be enduring the cold winter weather indefinitely until the heating is fixed.
“They’re just stuck in an insufferable position,” he said. “I don’t think they’re going to have any heat and that’s just not right.”
KFOR has been corresponding with the attorney of Foxcroft’s management company, Regional Management. His name is Matt Wheatley.
He sent us the following statement on Jan. 18, 2022, while explaining that his client only took over the complex on the last day of September 2021:
“The prior owner told my client that there was a single gas line leak, so it had turned off the gas and heat. My client was led to believe that all that needed to be done was repair one gas line leak and then the heat could be turned on. My client immediately went to work on getting a contractor (not easy in these Covid times) to repair the “leak”. After you repair a leak you are required to pressure test the system to make sure the whole system is holding pressure and that there are no other leaks. After you repair a leak you are required to pressure test the system to make sure the whole system is holding pressure and that there are no other leaks. After each repair there would be a pressure test and the system would not hold pressure, indicating more leaks. In all, 9 leaks were repaired on November 1st and November 7th of 2021, but the pressure tests were still not holding up. Because the pressure tests were not holding up it was presumed that there were leaks underground or in concealed areas. The prior owner was never able to provide a map or diagram of the gas lines, so my client got with the gas company and it was decided that my client needed to be able to locate all the gas lines before going forward with repairs. My client hired a pipeline locator company. It took a while for the pipeline locator company to complete its work, but finished last week. My client is now going forward with trying to find all remaining leaks and get them repaired as soon as possible and get the heat on. Obviously, having all these leaks was a very dangerous situation and as much as my client would have liked to “turn the heat back on”, as everyone is requesting, it cannot do so until the system is completely safe and approved by the gas company. This has been a really bad situation for the tenants and my client.”MATT WHEATLEY, REGIONAL MANAGEMENT
On Feb. 2, 2022, Wheatley gave this update when KFOR asked him if the tenants would have their heat back this month:
“The contractor hired was instructed to proceed with all haste and thought they would be finished much sooner than March. However, with Covid, weather, etc. they said they could not make any guarantees. They already ran into supply problems with getting enough gas lines to replace the old ones and had to travel the state to get the replacement lines. They now have the replacement lines and started last week with capping lines in the individual apartments.”MATT WHEATLEY
Last month, Oklahoma County District Judge Anthony Bonner ordered a temporary injunction that heat must be restored to Foxcroft Apartments and that until heat is safely provided, all rent from all tenants is not required to be paid and that no tenant can be evicted. The injunction can be lifted if heat is restored.