AUSTIN (KXAN) — Some tenants of the Creek’s Edge Apartments in north Austin say they have received notices of abandoned dwelling this month.
Such a notice would usually only go to someone who vacated their apartment. That’s why it shocked housing advocates, who believe it’s an attempt to remove tenants who are behind on their rent.
“The maintenance worker who was delivering these notices hand delivered the notice to a tenant who was standing in her unit,” said Shoshana Krieger, Project Director at Building and Strengthening Tenant Action, or BASTA. The nonprofit works to organize and provide resources for renters.
“It’s not legitimate what they’re doing,” she added.
Austin landlords can’t evict people by traditional means. Mayor Steve Adler banned issuing notices to vacate through the end of the year.
In the meantime, BASTA says it’s hearing about more and more landlords trying to get around the order.
“I think it’s supremely predatory,” said Stephen Frischmuth, who lives at Creek’s Edge.
Frischmuth said his neighbor received a notice of abandoned dwelling from the complex. He says he went with that neighbor to talk to the leasing office.
“We established that he was still living there,” he said.
Cooper Street Capital, which owns Creek’s Edge apartments, has not responded to our questions.
The company owns more than a dozen apartment complexes in the Austin area. Four of them, including Creek’s Edge, are on the city’s “Repeat Offender” list because of numerous code violations.
Creek’s Edge has been on the list since 2014, when it was the Cross Creek Apartments. It has weathered ownership changes, but code inspections have found problems with mold, leaking ceilings and even structural issues.
After years of back and forth, Austin revoked its license to rent, but Creek’s Edge recently got it back after fixing enough issues. City records show it has 21 active code violations.
A September audit found the city wasn’t being tough enough on property owners to ensure they fixed code violations.
Recommendations from the City Auditor’s Office included creating a voluntary landlord incentive program, increasing enforcement and creating a new fee schedule to reflect different workloads and costs.
Creek’s Edge Apartments is located in City Council District 4, represented by Greg Casar. He emphasized the need to shift resources away from the enforcement of minor code offenses.
“[Creek’s Edge] got sued, they got the licenses revoked, and there still seems to still be challenges,” said Casar. “The answer when a problem is stubborn is not to give up on it but to keep working on it.”