LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — It’s a power struggle inside the Big Country Chateau apartments. People living in the troubled Little Rock apartment complex are worried they may be evicted from their homes for good.
For the second time since August, electric and water companies have warned tenants at Big Country Chateau Apartments services will be cut off unless the landlord pays ignored bills.
Monday, each door at the Big Country Chateau Apartments received notice from Entergy that their power will be cut off in two weeks unless unpaid electric bills are paid by their landlord. Utilities are supposed to be included in the rent paid by tenants.
Central Arkansas Water also warned on Jan. 9 their service would end on Mar. 1 with no plans of it being reconnected.
In August, previous Attorney General Lesli Rutledge said Big Country Chateau and Apex violated Arkansas’ Deceptive Trade Practices Act. She said the complex pocketed money tenants paid for utilities and neglected to pay for water and electric services.
Kim Trace and her children have lived at Big Country Chateau for three years and find themselves in the exact situation from last Summer.
“Square one again, and everything is about to be cut off, and this time we actually think it is going to be cut off,” she said. “I feel like they need to give their tenants a bit more courtesy.”
Our team reached out to Entergy Arkansas, Central Arkansas Water, the Attorney General, and the City of Little Rock about what may happen in two weeks. Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr.’s communication director Aaron Sadler noted that the city was ready to help the tenants.
“The City of Little Rock is prepared to provide hotel vouchers, if needed, to assist the tenants remaining at the complex as they find temporary or permanent housing,” Sadler said.
Hasaunee Kerry, who has lived at the location for a year, said she welcomes a change given that she is living with mold, a leaking ceiling and roaches.
“I am literally getting sick from being out here, my health. We need help,” Kerry pleaded.
Entergy initially said Tuesday morning in a statement:
“The signs were posted to give residents ample time to prepare in case the power is disconnected due to lack of payment by the property owner. We have worked in the past with the customer on payments and will continue to do so to hopefully avoid service disruption.”
Hours later, Attorney General Tim Griffin contacted Entergy and Central Arkansas Water. Griffin sent a statement saying:
“I contacted Entergy and asked them not to cut off the power for the residents of Big Country Chateau while we are pursuing legal action against their landlord, who has failed to pay the electric bill. Entergy has agreed to extend the time for payment while I seek a legal remedy for the landlord’s unlawful conduct.
Entergy Arkansas Communications Manager Kacee Kirschvink sent an updated statement saying:
“We are working with [the] attorney general’s office to pursue protections for the tenants through the court system. We will suspend disconnections in accordance with the process that is worked out with the attorney general and the courts.”
Central Arkansas Water Director of Public Affairs and Communications Douglas Shackelford also sent a statement. It reads:
“Act 186 of the 90th General Assembly does not allow me to provide information about a customer account without authorization from the account owner, so I cannot answer specific questions about why this account is facing shutoff or provide any financial information.
I can tell you that Central Arkansas Water (CAW) wanted to provide an extended grace period between the time of the notification and the shutoff date to allow residents to make any arrangements they need to make in preparation for shutoff. We hope that Big Country Chateau management will work with CAW to resolve this issue and ensure that the residents there remain in water service.”
On top of the most recent scare, there are still some active safety violations from when Little Rock Property Management discovered over a thousand safety violations at Big Country Chateau in August.
Big Country Chateau management could not be reached on Tuesday. Previously, reports have been told many tenants are not paying rent which is a contributing cause of these issues. Some of the people interviewed Tuesday confirmed they were behind on payments. Others said they are innocent victims of the utilities scare.