AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Palms on Lamar sports amenities like covered parking, a pool and, for the time being, portable showers. That last option is because some residents, like Jennett Henning, can’t count on their homes having hot water.

“I need my hot water,” Henning said. She added sometimes, “it will just give that whole coughing thing, and I won’t see not one stream come out either way, and I’m like, ‘Oh, we’re doing this today.'”

A new owner, Seattle-based LIH Lamar Housing Associates, bought The Palms last year. A lawyer for the owner told the city in March the owner is doing everything it can to fix the water problems, which started after the ice storm in February 2021.

Palms resident Fernando Jones said it has been a problem since he moved in in August 2021. He showed KXAN how the water stayed cold when he turned on the hot water in his bathroom sink. The shower just trickled cold water on the hot setting.

a split stream of water out of a sink
A trickle of water out of a faucet on the Palms on Lamar (KXAN Photo)

“In a year, never had hot water, not one time,” Jones said.

And, in the kitchen, no water comes out when Jones turns the hot water knob.

“Not even a drip,” Jones said.

Jones said he’s complained to apartment management several times.

“They usually just tell me it’s a lime buildup problem, and they’ll get to it,” he said. “It’s about getting things resolved. Like what are y’all gonna do forward so this doesn’t happen again?”

Complex on Austin’s ‘repeat offender’ list

Jones also complained to the City of Austin. And he’s not the only one.

KXAN Investigates discovered because of multiple violations, including lack of hot water, the Palms on Lamar was put on the Austin Code Department’s repeat offender program in the summer of 2021.

But the complex is no stranger to the repeat offender list. It was on the list for the previous six years for code violations.

Throughout the complex, it’s clear work is underway.

A spokesperson for the Palms said the company is doing a lot of digging to get to the root of the water issue, spending more than $2 million to remove the calcium-clogged pipes and replace them throughout the complex.

  • exposed pipes in the ground
  • heavy equipment outside the palms on lamar
  • palms on lamar sign near parking lot entrance

Even so, work is behind schedule. The city gave the owner until the end of April, more than two months ago, to fix the plumbing. The Palms is fined $8,000 every week the water problems persist. The tally so far is nearly $84,000 as of this week and counting, according to the Austin Code Department.

“Every other month, I hear an excuse about either how I ‘should have hot water,’ ‘the problem is already fixed’ or ‘they’re going to have someone fix it,'” Jones recalled.

a portable shower truck
Portable showers at the Palms on Lamar (KXAN Photo)

A spokesperson for The Palms on Lamar sent the following statement Tuesday:

“The well-being of our residents is a top priority and we take their concerns very seriously. We are working diligently to repair the ongoing water issues and have work crews onsite installing new pipes for all the water lines. Construction began last week and is estimated to take up to six weeks. During this time, our residents will experience temporary water shutoffs during the day. Shower trailers are onsite and available for all residents, 24 hours a day.”

The Palms on Lamar spokesperson

KXAN also reached out to LIH Lamar Housing Associates, which owns The Palms. We will update this story when we receive a response.

If you suspect a potential code violation where you live, contact your local code enforcement office. In the City of Austin, you can report it to 3-1-1.