AUSTIN (KXAN) – A day before one of the coldest days of the year in Austin, Jazmyn Bencik was still without heat, hot water, or a working stove.
The north Austin apartment complex where Bencik lives had been without natural gas for nearly two weeks. She was hopeful the gas might be turned on before Thanksgiving, but the day came and went – and the utility was never restored.
Bencik, and her neighbors, were still unsure why the gas was off at all.
“I have this little space heater, but I would like to take a hot shower and cook something,” said Bencik’s downstairs neighbor Brandi Ware.
The apartment complex, Ashford Costa Azure on Rutland Dr., had the gas turned off by the Texas Gas Service on Nov. 13. The utility was called out about the smell of gas – and discovered at least one gas leak in the pipes. The spokesperson was not sure if more leaks have been found.
“We have been on site since early this morning working with the City of Austin to restore service where possible,” said Christy Penders, a spokesperson for Texas Gas Service. “Some of the buildings have not yet passed the city inspection, so we cannot restore service to that building.”
On Monday there were still six buildings where the gas was still shut off, according to the Austin Code Department.
The leak must be repaired by the complex, and then inspected by both the city and the gas service before any building could have the gas turned back on. But, in the meantime inspectors said the complex still had to make sure tenants had hot water and heat.
Records show Austin’s code inspectors came out to the complex a week into the gas being shut off, on Nov. 17 – and cited the complex three times for failing to provide hot water, cooking appliances, and heat. Inspectors recommended the complex temporarily provide the services while repairs and inspections were happening.
In a statement on Nov. 30, Austin Code Department spokesperson Rachel Freeman said the property manager at the complex told city inspectors they made hot plates and heather available by request starting Nov. 15. Inspectors confirmed with tenants during inspections that heaters and hot plates were made available by management, according to Freeman.
Tenants told KXAN on Nov. 26 no alternatives had been offered by managers of the complex.
“So, they are supposed to do that?” said Ware on Nov. 26. “They don’t even care. It’s almost the whole property. I think it is the whole property that [doesn’t] have any gas.”
“We were not provided any kind of alternative from the management company, and we don’t have any heat because it’s gas as well,” said Bencik on Nov. 26.
The apartment complex is owned by Houston-based Ashford Meadows Edge LP. Workers inside the leasing office said they had “no comment” on the gas leak and messages to the owners of the complex have not been returned.
The most recent matter is not the first, or only, violation the complex has received from the City of Austin. The apartment is listed on the City’s Repeat Offenders list, meaning it has multiple code violations dating back to 2014.