NewsOn6.com & Chris Wright, News On 6
TULSA, Oklahoma -- The City of Tulsa has stepped and given a reprieve for residents living in an east Tulsa apartment complex.
Mayor Dewey Bartlett said the city's Public Works Department, along with the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority, decided to defer the water cut-off set for Thursday at the Somerset East Apartments at 137th East Avenue and East 23rd Place for two weeks.
The owner of the apartment complex, who lives in California, owes the city of Tulsa $79,000 in past due water payments.
Residents were told Wednesday that the water would be turned off on Thursday, December 16, 2010, and that they would have ten days to get out.
"How do you decorate a Christmas tree if you don't know you're going to be here tomorrow? It's really upsetting for them, really upsetting," said Miracle Sams, a resident.
"There's not going to be a Christmas for us this year," Catherine Mattingly said. "What little money we were going to have for Christmas is going to have to go to finding someplace else to live."
The water will now remain on until January 3, 2011.
City officials say it was best, during this holiday season, to give the tenants more time to relocate. The city said it is working with the Tulsa Human Response Coalition, who in turn is working with the Red Cross and the Salvation Army to help the tenants.
Water is not the only issue at the apartment complex. The trash as well has not been picked up in a while.
City officials said the Tulsa Public Works Department's Solid Waste Collections is assisting Allied Waste in helping clean the area up. Dan Christensen, with Allied Waste, said the company will service the dumpsters at the complex Thursday.
While they will have some more time, residents still aren't likely to get their rent or deposit back.
"It can be tough. It depends on the availability to find the landlord, the company they made the contract with to serve them with a lawsuit," said Blake Hayes, an attorney.
Attorney Blake Hayes specializes in landlord tenant disputes. He says under Oklahoma law, everyone at Somerset is entitled to get their deposit back. He says the landlord is obligated to put that money aside in a fund. But that doesn't mean it always happens, and it's tough to prosecute.
"Landlord, tenant disputes in general, it's tough to file a lawsuit because it's going to wind up costing you about the same amount to fight it as you probably lost," he said.
Management says the owner is not returning calls. So while the residents won't be homeless for the holidays, if they can't track him down, they won't have any extra cash for the move.