Heating issue at Frontier Apartments has been resolved, but tenants say other problems continue to go unaddressed
Heat has been restored at the Frontier Apartments after several tenants went without during some of the coldest weeks of the winter, but the tenants say there are still ongoing maintenance and safety issues that have not been addressed.
In late January, a number of residents reported their heat was not working, which led to city Building Official Marlin Eckhoff to get involved. Eckhoff was made aware of the issue on Jan. 25, and he inspected five of the units on Jan. 26, confirming those residences were without heat.
In the following weeks, Eckhoff said he worked with management of the Frontier Apartments to restore heat to the tenants. Eckhoff reported during the Feb. 28 Craig City Council meeting that he’d given the landlord a list of authorized contractors who could make repairs to the boiler system.
“At the time, the apartment managers said that Masterworks had dealt with the apartment in the past, but they would not come there anymore,” Eckhoff said. “You usually understand why a contractor won’t come there anymore; there is probably some history.”
Eckhoff was able to talk with Masterworks directly, and company officials agreed to send a technician there to restore heat for the tenants.
“There are more problems in that apartment than just the no heat,” Eckhoff said, adding there have been nuisance issues pertaining to the overall condition and upkeep of the apartments, rather than any specific known code violations.
In addition to the lack of heat, three residents reported in January about ongoing problems with burst pipes, leaks in the walls and ceilings, and mold. There was also damage to the exterior walkways and flooding on the ground-level entryways and units.
In areas where plumbing issues had been addressed, residents were left with holes in the drywalls of their bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms, and some said the plumbing issues still persist.
“This building definitely needs something done to it,” said Tasha Burke-Dilldine, one of the residents with ongoing maintenance issues.
The reports about conditions at the property raised concern among City Council during an earlier Feb. 14 council meeting.
Mayor Ryan Hess asked Craig Police Chief Mike Cochran if the Frontier Apartments still receive a significant amount of police and drug activity, and the police chief said the level of police calls and drug activity is still extremely high.
“Just last month we served three search warrants at those apartments,” Cochran said, adding that during the searches, police seized large quantities of drugs.
Three tenants have said they’ve observed suspicious and drug-related activity in vacant units at the building by individuals they believe are not leasing or paying rent on those empty units. The Craig Police Department did not respond to the Craig Press’ requests for comment about calls regarding the unauthorized entry or drug activity in the vacant units.
Fernando, a long-term tenant who asked to be identified by only his first name, said many of the residents do not feel safe because of the non-tenants who are often seen going in and out of vacant apartments, some of them supposedly doing work on the units in order to get them rented out.
“There is no licensed maintenance person,” Fernando said. “That’s why everybody is afraid to put a maintenance form in because they don’t know who is going to be in the units to make the repairs.”
After the Craig Press published a previous article detailing issues at Frontier Apartments, some of the tenants who spoke out felt they faced retaliation from the apartment management. Three residents reported that over the past few months, management has issued letters saying their rent will be raised, but has produced no updated leases for tenants to sign.
In two cases, tenants were told after the original article was published that they owed significant back-rent from the increased rent. Tenants were given little amount of time to pay back rents, and in one case, the tenant was told the back rent would be waived if they agreed to move out.
“I never had an eviction notice until the day we started complaining,” Fernando said. “That’s when we started getting notices.”
Fernando also reported that water suddenly appeared under his kitchen sink overnight, which he believed was intentional because he could not trace it back to any leaks from surrounding pipes. However, based on photographs, there was a small hole near the bathroom pipes leading to the adjacent apartment.
“It appeared to have just happened once, and upon inspection, I was unable to find any leaks that would have contributed to the water under his sink,” said Eckhoff in an email Thursday, March 9. “Fortunately, most of the water was caught in a large plastic tub under the sink, so there appeared to be no water damage to the apartment itself.”
The residents have also said that there are consistent issues with animal complaints, some needing attention from animal control. In early February, resident Joseph Robbins-Romero reported that a puppy had been left behind in one of the empty units after the tenants vacated. Another tenant reported that many residents let their dogs out around the building off-leash, which has led to animal fights that result in animal control getting involved.
When the new apartment owners took over in fall 2021, some capital improvements were made in order to support the sale of the building. Management sent out a letter shortly after, stating that additional repairs and upgrades would be coming. Fernando said that those repairs just aren’t happening.
The Northwest Colorado Bar Association sponsors a free legal clinic in Craig every second Tuesday of the month. During the clinic volunteer attorneys can explain processes and procedures for legal issues including civil litigation, property-law, and landlord-tenant law. To sign up, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your first name and phone number.
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