INDIANAPOLIS — INDIANAPOLIS — The City of Indianapolis says unpaid utility bills by the property management of Berkley Commons and Capital Place apartments for water and gas exceeded $1.3 million.
The City used taxpayer dollars to restore water services to the southside complexes last week after the management company that owns the properties failed to pay utility bills.
State Representative Justin Moed (D-Indianapolis) says the water should have never been shut off. He's now fighting for Congress to get involved.
"I think the most frustrating part of it is that these folks have been paying their bills with the belief their utilities are being paid by the company," said Rep. Moed.
Unpaid utility bills stacked up to more than $1.3 million, forcing Citizens Energy to shut off hundreds of residents' water services last week. More than half was paid by the City to restore it.
"It shouldn't be the taxpayers that have to bail this company out in this situation," said Rep. Moed.
According to documents, utilities are supposed to be paid with residents' rent.
Last week, Brenda Jones showed us months of receipts.
On Wednesday, she showed us a portion of her lease stating the owner shall provide and maintain hot and cold running water at all times which was violated when Citizens Energy shut off services.
"It's very frustrating. I feel they owe us money back," Jones said.
The biggest question for residents and state leaders is where the money went.
Moed says the company that operates the properties, Aloft MGT, LLC, is linked to other properties across Indianapolis including troubled Lakeside Pointe at Nora, which WRTV has covered at length.
The complex is in the process of being sold. The city says if the sale doesn't go through within the next five days, it will file a nuisance lawsuit after years of negligence.
"There is Aloft, then there is a bigger LLC, and this is apparently happening across the country the same issues. This is by the same group of folks doing this," said Rep. Moed.
Moed says enough is enough. He's working with the Attorney General's Office pushing for a federal investigation into the management group.
"We are looking at can we go after their nonprofit status since they are certainly not serving the public good. How to get back their PPP money and their rental assistance money they've been getting," said Moed.
The mayor's office says it's working on its agreement with Citizen's Energy that will allow the city to file suit against the Aloft MGT LLC. and make sure water and gas services aren't disconnected for these residents in the future.
The Marion County Public Health Department has also filed four citations in court against them.
Rep. Moed says he plans to propose making it a criminal act for management groups to not pay utilities when it's included in tenant's rent., and/or make them pay it back to tenants.