Tulsa Renter: Landlord Abandoned Repairs, Disconnected Phone After Tornado

Wednesday, April 1st 2015, 6:32 pm
By: Tess Maune

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has asked for federal aid to help Oklahomans hit hardest by recent tornadoes. She's asking for money to help people in Tulsa and Cleveland counties rebuild after twisters damaged or destroyed more than 1,000 homes and businesses.

Getting back to normal after the storms is especially hard for one family, because they're renting a house in west Tulsa, and they can't get in touch with their landlord.

The family here knows how lucky they are that this is all they're dealing with, but naturally they want it fixed.

They said they pay their rent every month on time and don't have the money to make the repairs themselves -- even paying for a tarp is an expense they couldn't afford.

“We work hard for what we have, so we take care of it,” Jonna Hilton said.

Making ends meet is the way of life for many, including Hilton and her family, who are doing their best to make their west Tulsa rent house a home.

“ We seen it up for rent, it was our budget and we kind of had to take it, so we ended up here and this is what we settled with and we made it livable,” she said.

Since they moved in a year ago, Jonna says they've had some trouble getting help from the landlord, but nothing like what she's going through now.

“This wall here is what the tornado did,” she pointed out. “Now as you see, if it rains, it rains inside and you can kind of smell the mildew starting to set in from it raining from the tornado and stuff and you can see the ground. I don't know what else to do.

She said her landlord, Lance Smedley, promised he'd call her over the weekend to see about fixing the back room of her house, but the weekend came and went. And now, Smedley's phone has been disconnected and Hilton doesn't know what to do.

“I mean, I don't have the money to fix it myself, and if he would bring me the stuff, I would,” she said.

Attorney Blaine Frierson said when it comes to an act of nature, a landlord is on the hook to help.

“Landlord is responsible for repairing in a reasonable period of time,” Frierson said.

“And whatever percentage of the home is damaged, that much should be taken off the rent until the damage is fixed.

But luckily for Jonna, the guys with T-Town Roofing stepped in to pick up the slack for now, free of charge.

“These windows could fall out, too, guys,” a crew member said.

T-Town Roofing

And a good thing, too, they say the roof could have collapsed at any time.

Smedley contacted News On 6 after this story aired at 6 p.m. He said he has "100 other rent houses" and said fixing the "few shingles that blew off her [Hilton's] roof was not a top priority." He said he has a new number, but didn't say why that number hadn't been given to Hilton.