Facing The Landlord

Imagine going even one day without heat during a Wyoming winter.

Two people living at a Casper apartment complex say last winter they went weeks without.

And that was just one of many problems they faced.

You might remember, months ago, the international property maintenance code was brought to city council.

It got a lot of backlash from the community and ultimately did not move forward in council.

But city code and building officials believe that code would help people in these situations.

In this series we’ll show you some of the issues tenants have faced, what laws are in place to help them and why some think more needs to be done.

“When I first moved in I started realizing this place had a lot of problems.”

Like bed bugs, cockroaches mold and more.

“They shut off the gas and we had to use space heaters to heat our apartments.”

“She wouldn’t fix the heat, she would tell them that they couldn’t use their ovens… leave the ovens turned on and open to keep themselves warm,” said former tenant, Shannon Hall.

Hensler says appliances were agreed upon in her lease but she went without.

“I haven’t had a stove since about January, I wanna say.”

Hall says in early December her hot water went out.

She says it took until the beginning of February to get it back on.

“I had no heater and no stove in winter time in Wyoming in an apartment with almost no windows. It was horrible. Horrible. Horrible.”
Despite all these issues, leaving is easier said than done.

“It’s probably as cheap as you can get for around here.”

“It’s kind of just sucking people in because they don’t have another option, really,” said former tenant Valerie Hensler.

Hensler is surprised nothing has been done yet.

“I’ve called the health department, I’ve called the city they all say they don’t have any jurisdiction over this.”

Gia Dugan runs 307 Forever West Properties and took over the Albuquerque apartments a year ago.

She did not want to go on camera, but admits bed bugs, cockroaches and mold were problems when she first took over but….

“We’ve spent 17,000 within issues of the pest issues.”

She says when there were heating issues everyone was given space heaters and she would never tell a tenant to leave the oven open for heat.

“We were never without heat.”

Dugan says there have been a couple of times when hot water wasn’t working, but they moved quickly to address that.

She says there were never any issues with gas leaks and when appliances, like the stove, don’t work it might take up to a few weeks, but it will be fixed.

“I’m just trying to provide affordable housing for everyone.”
She believes there is a problem in our area.

“I think it would be easier if people understood the rental system in Casper, Wyoming is broken.”

“Most of these larger complexes would rather stay at 30% capacity instead of giving someone else an option. There has to be good affordable housing for all people despite having a past, despite having pets, despite any prejudice.”

Hensler says she sent a letter by certified mail to her landlord trying to address the issues she says she experienced, but she never heard back from her.

Dugan says she rarely receives written complaints from tenants.
There are rental laws in Wyoming but enforcing them can be difficult for tenants.