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Problems pile up for south side apartment owner with unpaid utility bills

Citizens Energy, the city of Indianapolis, and the Indiana Attorney General all have separate pending lawsuits against the apartment owner.

INDIANAPOLIS — 13 Investigates found that the problems keep piling up for a landlord who operates several lower rent Indianapolis apartment complexes. 

The latest problem: Trash service was interrupted at Berkley Commons Apartments on Madison Avenue on the south side when the bill wasn't paid.

Every dumpster in the large complex overflowed with garbage Monday morning. 

Republic Services told 13 Investigates, "The customer in mention has been placed on a temporary service freeze due to non-payment. Our team is aware and is working directly with the customer to resolve the issue."

The owner of Berkley Commons is JPC Affordable Housing, which also operates Capital Place Apartments. Citizens Energy shut off the water at the two south side complexes Feb. 17 for 24 hours before the city stepped in with an emergency payment of $850,000. But the past due balance on the water bill is still about $1.5 million for four properties, including the Woods at Oak Crossing and Covington Square Apartments on the west side.  

Citizens Energy Group provided this update: 

“The owners of the apartment complexes, JPC Affordable Housing and their affiliate Berkley Commons, have only made a limited amount of payments on some accounts. The current balance owed to Citizens on four properties is approximately $1.5 million. The properties are Berkley Commons, Capital Place, Woods at Oak Crossing and Covington Square, which just joined the list of their past due properties. 

We have been in contact with a representative for the apartment owners but have been unable to secure a reasonable payment arrangement. We are continuing to pursue our legal action in Marion Superior Court to obtain payment on the past due bills. We continue to urge residents living at these apartments to contact their rental office to demand that the owners pay their current and past due utility bills.” 

Amber Wilson moved in at Berkley Commons less than a month ago but says Citizens Energy won't hook up gas service for her stove.

"They told me they would not start any new accounts for Berkley Commons,” said Wilson. “So, we're stuck without gas."

RELATED: Citizens Energy Group shuts off water at 2 Indianapolis apartment complexes

RELATED: City reaches agreement to have water turned back on at 2 Indy apartment complexes

A Berkley Commons manager told us the trash service interruption was caused by confusion over bills from other, older properties. 

Salvador Lopez has lived at Berkley Commons for eight years. He said he had three large trash bags full of garbage in his apartment that he did not want to throw on the ground because the dumpster was full.

"Thank you for making this report because it will probably help a little bit for them to try to fix this right now,” said Lopez, who lives in an apartment with his wife and three children. “I hope as soon as possible they have to fix the problem."

Credit: WTHR
Piles of trash could be seen outside Berkley Commons Apartments on Monday, May 16, 2022, after the apartment had a temporary hold put on trash service due to the apartment owner's failure to pay.

Around 3 p.m. Monday afternoon, a resident sent 13News photos showing that the dumpsters had just been emptied at Berkley Commons. The trash is gone, but the overdue water bill remains.

Credit: Mary Smith
At about 3 p.m. Monday, May 16, 2022, a resident sent 13News photos showing the overflowing dumpsters had just been emptied at Berkley Commons. The trash is gone, and the overdue water bill remains.

Citizens Energy, the city of Indianapolis, and the Indiana Attorney General all have separate pending lawsuits against the apartment owner.

The city's lawsuit demands the owners reimburse the $850,000 the city paid to Citizens Energy to get the water turned back on in February. The Attorney General asserts that JCP has not performed its legal duties as a nonprofit. The lawsuit claims the poor living conditions at these complexes endanger the health and safety of the people who live there.   

RELATED: City, state leaders announce lawsuit against Indianapolis apartment complexes

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