Third Ward residents told they need to vacate apartments that were sold

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Long time residents of an apartment complex in Houston's historic Third Ward neighborhood are scrambling to find a place to live after they were handed notice to vacate letters.

"It's really difficult to try to relocate right now, especially with the pandemic," said John McClenon, who has lived at the Barbee Street Apartments for more than 20 years.

In the Jan. 20 notice to vacate placed on doors, tenants were told that the property has been sold, and new owners have plans to begin renovations on Feb. 10.

As a result, all residents must move out by that date because the property will no longer have gas, electric, or water, as those will be turned off to complete renovations.

The residents understand that the units need a lot of renovations, but what they are hoping for is more time.

Still, what the residents feel is unfair treatment is within the Texas landlord - tenant laws.

"A property owner would be able to give something short of a 30-day notice depending on how they acquired that property and how they gained that ownership," said attorney Richard Amagwula.

"I was homeless before and I don't like it," said a 63-year old Vietnam War veteran with disabilities. Other tenants feel as though "homeless" is what they may become.

"I've got to pray. I've got to pray. I've got to give it to Jesus," said long-time resident Darrell Ray.

Meanwhile, some of the elderly residents claim they have been unsuccessful at reaching the soon-to-be property owners, whose number is listed on the vacate notice. They have never been able to get through.

ABC13, however, was able to reach one of them.

The new owner said he is willing to help with any relocation assistance that he can offer them and is willing to give residents more time if they need it.

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