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More than $450,000 in unpaid utility bills rack up at 2 Anderson apartment complexes

Posted at 7:02 PM, Apr 21, 2022

ANDERSON — The City of Anderson is seeking more than $450,000 of unpaid utility bills at Bingham Square and Madison Square apartments.

Residents are worried their utilities will be shut off.

"Once that power goes off what are we going to go? It's going to be a challenge," said Troy Nighbourne, a resident.

Utilities at Bingham and Madison Square apartments are provided by Anderson Utility Company.

Some residents say services are supposed to be included in their rent while others say they pay their own utilities.

Regardless, they want to know why more than $450,000 is owed.

"I am very surprised. It came to be a shock to me. I never lived in a place like this it's ridiculous. I mean if they collect rent, they should pay bills," said Madison Square resident Bruce Stennis.

CEO of Anderson Housing Authority Kimberly Townsend said the unpaid bills put residents at risk.

"It is frustrating for people because they've seen where apartments that owe large utility amounts could have their meters removed and it's lights out for everybody and I don't think that's fair," she said.

Anderson Housing Authority filed suit against PR Bingham L.L.C. on April 11, seeking more than $7,000 in rent payments for the month of November.

After a failed inspection in October, the property had until Nov. 5 to get them up to code.

RELATED | Five more families displaced over Section 8 voucher issues in Anderson

Instead, the properties stopped accepting Section 8 housing vouchers and dozens of families were forced to move out.

"Those problems never got resolved and they ended their relationship with us so the monies we had already paid is due back to us because we are only supposed to pay on properties that pass inspection," she said.

Townsend said residents at both properties have faced unsafe living conditions and now this.

She added the city doesn't want to pull the plug cutting off residents from water and utilities but is seeking repayment of funds.

"They do know it is not through fault of the tenants and that would be devastating for families to have to live without those basic essentials and even to find another place to live because we do have a housing shortage here," said Townsend.

"Help us out. We need it. It's sad," said Nighbourne.

WRTV has reached out to the property owners for a response and is waiting to hear back.

Bingham and Madison Square apartments are both for sale for $5 million each.

The Anderson Redevelopment Commission has to approve any sale of the property.

RELATED | Local groups team up to help tenants in Anderson

If sold, the new owners would be responsible for settling repayment before the transaction.

"Property Resources, LLC d/b/a Bingham Apartments presently owes the city of Anderson $405,474.29 for utility services," said David Eicks, Anderson Board of Public Works chairman.

Eicks said that the city is seeking payment of any past due utilities as part of an agreement that will allow Bingham to sell the property to another management company. Eicks said that matter is being handled by legal counsel.

Eicks stated that the city's options were initially limited due to the state-wide ban imposed on utility disconnections by the Governor. Since that time, Bingham has been engaged in an effort to sell the property to a new management company. The city has contractional language in the agreement between Bingham and the Anderson Redevelopment Commission that allows the city to withhold approval of a transfer.

“We do not want to have to turn off tenants’ utilities, but we also need Bingham to meet their obligations and pay these accrued utilities. These tenants are paying rent and they deserve to have their utilities on and to have them paid by the landlord when their rental contracts provide for such payment. We have been advised that Bingham is actively marketing the property and we are expecting any such resolution to include the payment of back due utilities at the time of any sell," Eicks said.

He continued, “We have other options that we will pursue if an agreement is not reached in the near future.

Just last week, the City of Indianapolis, the Indiana Attorney General's office, and Citizens Energy sued the owner of three troubled apartment complexes in Indianapolis.

Citizens Energy is seeking repayment of more than $1.3 million in unpaid water and gas bills at Berkley Commons, Capital Place and the Woods at Oak Crossing apartments.

The city's suit seeks repayment of $850,000 in taxpayer money it used to get the water restored to Berkley Commons and Capital Place.

The Attorney General's suit aims to remove the property owner's non-profit status.