Debt collectors swarm apartment complex

March 4, 2009 5:34:33 PM PST
Everything from washers and dryers to computers were hauled out of a southwest Houston apartment complex on Wednesday. It was resident moving day, but a time when debt collectors were moving in to take what they could. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

It happened at the Spring Rose Apartments on Club Creek Drive, because the apartment owners owe money.

Refrigerators, stoves and just about anything else that wasn't bolted down got hauled away by crews just doing their job. The event left residents surprised and frustrated.

"What's to say that next month or a couple of weeks, they just tell us that we got to move out, then we'll be stuck on the street," said frustrated renter Stephen Freeman.

Freeman and the other residents were actually lucky. The crews collecting items only took the appliances from vacant apartments. One occupied area that did get items hauled away was the manager's office. The employees were forced to work on the floor after that and wouldn't talk to Eyewitness News, but the lawyer representing those collecting the debt did.

"My client was a private security firm trying to provide a service," said attorney Rob Todd. "The irony is that even though they were here trying to take care of the safety concerns, they weren't paid."

Todd says the appliances and furniture collected will eventually be sold at auction. While no residents were displaced by what happened, watching deputies haul off truckload after truckload is at best unsettling.

"Nobody wants to live in a place where the management is not paying the bills or doing what they're supposed to be doing," said Meera who is a frustrated renter.

The Houston Apartment Association says what happened is perfectly legal, but so rare that it's never seen anything similar in another complex.

For the people who still call this place home, they're wondering where all the rent money went.

"Are they pocketing my money," asked Freeman. "I got questions and nobody can answer!"

We tried to contact the owners of the apartment, but were unable to reach them.

The Houston Apartment Association reminds us that tenants have rights and if owners aren't holding up their end of the bargain, you have the right to complain.

The city of Houston says the complex has not been on its apartment watch list but now it is. The city will be keeping tabs on the complex and if it is safe for residents to remain there.

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