Sheila Murphy moved to the Divine Mesa apartments around this time last year and she already has a long list of complaints and concerns. For starters, part of the roof in her bathroom collapsed a month ago.
"Urine and feces is falling into my apartment in one of my bathrooms," Murphy said. "There is mold everywhere. I have been having to go out and live with my mother because I am nauseated and vomiting all the time. I can't clean my kitchen up and wash dishes because the sinks are stopped up and the water will not let out. [The] air conditioning unit doesn't work [and] I've killed a small snake in my apartment."
Murphy said she has contacted management about the many things wrong with her apartment but so far, nothing's been fixed. Someone from maintenance did visit her last week, but no one's been back since. Her aunt, Rosie Davis, also lives in Divine Mesa. She believes mold buildup is making her sick.
"This apartment's been flooded out before and I just found out about it this month when they sent an old man out here to fix my sink because it had been running for about two months," Davis said. "I have used all my quilts, towels and everything on my floor and now it's piled up in a room in there with mold. I can't even go in there. I can't sleep in my bedroom because it makes me sick."
But the problems for some tenants are far worse than that.
Ashley Preston said, "When [our upstairs neighbors] flush they toilet, my toilet [will] start running, and then we be hearing water running and then we go to the bathroom and then we got somebody else's bowel movement all over our floor and we gotta clean that up."
Many other residents also said their complaints to maintenance and apartment management are being ignored. They also said they have been threatened with eviction for refusing to pay rent until their problems are solved.
We repeatedly tried to contact the owners of Divine Mesa, J.A.T. and Associates in Longview, but we were unable to get in touch with of anyone at the management company.
If you are looking to rent a new home or apartment, there are several things you can do to protect yourself from any unpleasant surprises. Future tenants should drive around the property and neighborhood they're planning to live in and ask questions of management and current tenants.
You should also inspect your potential home or apartment thoroughly and report any maintenance problems to the landlord before moving in.
Realtor Juanita Hardy of Coldwell Banker Donovan said, "We typically have an owner's notice concerning condition of the property and that would be advisable to a prospective tenant too - to look over that [and] see what kind of condition the owner thinks the property is in, as well as filling out an inventory and condition form once they do lease the property. "
Before moving in, house renters should also ask what their maintenance responsibilities are. Tenants will be held accountable for some of the upkeep of their rental homes.
After this story aired on the East Texas News at 6, J-A-T and Associates, the owner of the Mesa Divine Apartments, contacted us in regards to the living conditions of the tenants. They say they've only owned the property since the first of this year.
The property manager says he was not aware of some of the severe conditions until Wednesday, and that maximum efforts to repair the buildings are being made. "We're gonna continue to renovate it and repair the facility and continue making a safer facility....one of the first things we did was hire some off duty police officers the first month we had to let the people know that we care about their living conditions," said Andy Taylor, the property manager for J-A-T & Associates.