DEL CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – A Del City woman is saying she and her two young daughters are homeless after a landlord rented out a home to her that has now been condemned.
The family has since been living in a motel but say they’re quickly running out of money.
Lanae Tafoya said she, her eight-year-old, and 16-year-old moved out of the home In the 2600 block of Epperly Drive on Sept. 10.
“I was upset to look at my kiddos and having to tell them we’re homeless and have nowhere to go,” she told KFOR on Monday. “I feel taken advantage of.”
Tafoya said she and her two daughters were thrilled to move into this southeast Del City home on Sept. 2.
The home was rented to her by Mitchell and Son Properties.
Tafoya said she asked her landlord multiple times to activate the home’s water, but after it wasn’t done, she eventually called the City of Del City on Sept. 9 to help and she was told they had to move out.
“They were like, ‘nobody’s supposed to be there,'” she said. “So roughly two hours later, somebody came out and they put condemned papers on the house and told me I had 24 hours to get out.”
City of Del City Public Information Officer J.D. Hock told KFOR the landlord never turned in the proper paperwork to get the house inspected, and therefore it couldn’t get certified for occupancy or have its water turned on.
“You have to have a housing inspection performed any time you have a new tenant coming into a rental home in Del City,” he explained. “The goal of the housing inspection program is to ensure that the home is safe to occupy. So, when you complete the housing inspection form and you actually have our housing inspectors come out to meet with you and after they go through the home, if there are no life safety violations, you get a certificate of occupancy. You take that certificate of occupancy to our utility billing department, and they turn on your utility account, which is for city water, sewer and sanitation.”
He explained that after that, the home is legally ready for occupancy.
“In this instance, there was no active utility account,” he continued, calling the home unsanitary. “So, with no water, sewer or sanitation, the home is not safe to have someone live in. So, the home had to be condemned. So that’s where we are right now. If the home had a home occupancy permit, then [the tenant] would be allowed into the home and right now they do not.”
Hock concluded by saying the proper process needs to be completed if anyone is to move into the home on Epperly Drive, further explaining that concerning the paperwork, Tafoya “cannot sign it legally because she is not the homeowner.”
“We’re all about helping any citizen for Del City,” he said of any tenant wanting to move in. “So, we’re actively waiting at this point. Right now, what we’re waiting on is the property owner to give us permission to perform the housing inspection and we have not received that completed application as of yet.”
Tafoya said her family is now homeless, staying at an area motel. She said she’s lost on how to help her daughters after all their money has been spent on this unfruitful move.
“I spend a lot of time crying,” she said. “I try not to let them see me cry. I don’t want them to think I don’t have [the money], but I don’t know what to do.”
She said she has sold a lot of their furniture in a yard sale to pay the motel charges.
“I just put everything out and I just had a sign that says my landlord took my money and now the place is condemned, need money for hotel,” she said.
Dryden Mitchell of Mitchell and Son Properties sent KFOR a statement Monday.
“Ms. Lanae Tafoya entered into a rental contract, by signature with a term beginning August 1st, 2022 and ending July 31st, midnight 2023,” he said. “As of today, 9/12/2022 – She has never performed her end of said contract in any way as it regards to paying rent.”
He then said Tafoya could be refunded a $250 deposit if the house is in the shape it was when she had entered the home.
“To date I have never received $1 towards any rent for the month of August nor the month of September on behalf of Ms. Tafoya nor does she have or has produced any record of payment to me or any entity I am affiliated with,” the statement continued. “I provided in hand, a 5-day notice to quit that was served to Ms. Tafoya on 9/8/2022 for default of contract by nonpayment of rent. This notice was also texted to her minutes after I handed it to her for further confirmation. Ms. Tafoya was in default before any notice or any type of action by the City of Del City was made regarding the water dept. Ms. Tafoya never asked me or notified me of needing my signature for the water until she was served with the 5-day notice to quit and evacuate. Ms. Tafoya also never attempted to bring me the paperwork to be signed. I was notified only after the 5-day notice to quit and evict was handed to her. Ms. Tafoya has also not provided me with said Notice from the City of Del City and I have not been able to see it with my own eyes yet. Ms. Tafoya has provided misinformation about having a job which I have confirmation of among many other issues. The fact remains that Ms. Tafoya to date has never fulfilled nor performed her duty under the terms of the contract to live in the house she signed for.”
Tafoya rebutted that she should have never been allowed to move in if the required housing inspection to turn on utilities wasn’t complete.
She also said the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency had scheduled an appointment with her and the landlord for Sept. 15 for an in-person inspection and lease/contract execution, which would have led to housing assistance payment.
The City of Del City Spokesman J.D. Hock also told KFOR that on May 5, they had already investigated people living at the Epperly Drive home without active water and let them know, then, that without water they’d have to condemn it. A notice was sent to the landlord about this the next day.
On the City’s condemnation notice posted on the front door on Sept. 9 concerning Tafoya’s move-in, it says, “This letter serves to inform you that the structure at [address] Epperly Dr. in Del City has been observed to be occupied and/or unsecured. This structure has been previously condemned for occupancy and ordered to be secured. You are hereby ordered to vacate and secure this structure from unauthorized entry immediately.”
Dryden’s statement to KFOR concluded with sympathy for Tafoya.
“In closing, I have never had to evict anyone in 15 years of managing properties and have countless testimonies thanking me for being such a good and fair landlord,” he said. “I wish her and her family the very best and have no ill will towards her. I even said in text that I would provide a reference for her if she thought it would help. This is not easy for me. I have a family too and have to provide for them. I can’t afford to let people live in my properties for free.”