An Oklahoma City apartment complex is at the center of a class-action lawsuit filed by tenants over lack of heat.
With Winter upon us, having reliable access to heat is essential. However, tenants at an Oklahoma City apartment complex have been without heat since September, and they’re fed up – so fed up that they banded together to file a class-action lawsuit. Attorney Ryan Owens is representing the tenants pro bono, and is “working with a legal team to sue the owners of the Foxcroft Apartments, among others.” The main owner being sued, according to Owens, is National Exchange Titleholder 1031 Co.
According to Owens, the owner “broke Oklahoma law 41 O.S. § 118 (OSCN 2022), Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, which requires a landlord to maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by him.”
The suit was filed earlier this week and is suing multiple defendants for six counts. The sixth count requested a “temporary restraining order, which Oklahoma County District Judge Anthony Bonner granted and certified Tuesday.” When commenting on the suit, Owens said:
“[The tenants] now have an order from the District Court of Oklahoma County that they can take back to their landlord and say, you have been ordered by the District Court to turn on the heat and you’ve been ordered by the court to not evict anyone for not paying rent until this lawsuit is resolved.”
“It’s unacceptable…I mean, you have one of our plaintiffs saying that it got down to 16 degrees in her apartment Saturday night. You can’t live like that…On January 14th, we’ll be here in Judge Bonner’s courtroom and that’s called a show cause hearing…The defendants will have the opportunity to have legal counsel to come in and to make their case as to why they don’t or should not have to turn on the heat for the tenants at Foxcroft Apartments. I can’t wait to hear that argument, quite frankly. They have to provide evidence as to why Judge Bonner shouldn’t make this order permanent.”
Recently, an anonymous maintenance worker revealed that Wehner Multifamily, LLC is the company in charge of maintaining the apartment complex. When asked about the matter, a spokesperson for the company issued the following statement:
“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. At this time, I have no further information to provide.”
The City of Oklahoma City has been made aware of the situation and is monitoring it. Kathy Yager, a spokeswoman with the city, said they have issued fines to Foxcroft Exchange, the apartment owner, at least three times, and noted there is not much more the city can do. She added:
“We have been on-site…We’re going to stay on-site and try to help the tenants. We do know that we’ve seen the contractor on the property, and we know that they’re trying to fix the problem. But in the meantime, we’ll continue to write citations to the property owner. The problem is we can’t force them to fix the heat. All that we can do is continue to write tickets to them and that is the highest number that we can write or the most we can write a citation for.”