GREENWOOD — A drastic change to a Greenwood apartment complex's leasing agreement is raising eyebrows and concerns for residents.
The Cottages at Sheek Road Apartments, a Section 42 housing community that provides affordable housing to residents 55 and older has made a change their residents weren't expecting.
Until recently, residents were not responsible for paying utility bills. When those utility bills began showing up, residents were shocked at the high charges.
"I'm conscious of it now. If I got to pay this bill, I'm not going to run the water," said Rita Brent who has lived at the complex for more than eight years. "Well, then you start thinking about taking showers. Should I or shouldn't I? Why should I at 75-years-old question that?"
At the time Brent moved in, there was a clear understanding about the utility responsibility nearly ten years ago when most of the residents also moved in.
"Never had one [a bill]. Supposedly, the law said they had to pay one of our utilities," Brent said.
It's not spiraling into an expensive nightmare.
"They said if I don't pay $133 the first month, June, that I'll be evicted," said Sandy Fields, who has also lived at the complex for eight years.
Fields lives alone, but her first few water bills have been more than $100 each.
"They measured our water and then she tried to tell me that I use 100 gallons and I said I do not," Fields explained.
After residents reached out, fearful that they wouldn't be able to afford these new changes, WRTV went looking for answers.
The property is owned by Kittle Properties Group, Inc. and after making some phone calls, WRTV received a full statement and a break down of what's going on. According to Kittle's, they say they are in compliance with all utility regulations and ensure that residents are not being charged more than allowed by Section 42 rules. Kittle's continued that they received approval from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority to change to resident paid water and sewer.
"It makes me feel like somebody is not telling the truth," Brent said.
Brent shared a letter with WRTV provided by Kittle Properties Group, giving residents 30 days notice of this change in writing, which was said to be required by their lease agreement.
"It's dated April 27. We got our very first bill on May 1 and HUD made them push it back to June 1," Brent added.
Kittle went on to say that out of fairness, they allowed residents who couldn't afford the new billing change the opportunity to void their lease at no penalty within 30 days of written notice.
It's a lot easier said than done, though, for seniors who are on a fixed income and dependent upon Section 42 housing.
"Most apartments have a list and sometimes it goes back to three years. I called some and the closest I could get was maybe five to six months. I don't have nowhere to go," Brent said.
Brent and Fields are just two of many residents who share that they feel they're being taken advantage of.
"It just doesn't seem that it's fair to us," Brent explained. "If I'd known this eight years ago, if they had told me I'd have to pay a water bill I'd be okay with it because it's when I moved in. Now that I've been here eight years and I must pay the water bill, what's the deal?"
WRTV is still looking into with the property made this sudden change and if they plan to offer assistance to residents who are not able to move.