HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Over the past several months, ABC13 has heard from people who live at the La Serena Apartments in Spring Branch about unsafe and unsanitary living conditions.
The Houston Health Department confirms it has received more than two dozen complaints about the complex over the past year, and residents feel the problems are never-ending.
"The raw sewage is overflowing to the point where it's getting to the brim, and you have to literally, physically scoop it out with a two-liter pitcher," explained one renter who has lived at the complex for about two years.
It's a disgusting task this man and his wife say they have had to do on more than one occasion when the sewage pipes back up into the sink and tub at their apartment at La Serena on Wirt Road in Spring Branch.
"It's just kind of a slum, I guess you would say," he said.
This renter did not want to be identified out of fear of retaliation from management.
He tells us you can see standing raw sewage in several places around the complex when it rains. He says they've also dealt with rats, ongoing leaks, and exposed pipes where renovations were never completed.
In addition, a letter was posted on the renters' doors, saying everyone would have to pay $100 more each month until the tenants understand that certain items should not be flushed down the toilet-- that list included toilet paper.
"It was kind of a slap in the face," he said.
The health department said they received 31 complaints about La Serena in the past year. The complaints range from sewage overflow to mold and pests. The health department says three citations have been issued to the complex in the past year.
But what else can be done?
"If it's significant issues, eventually, they'll be taken to court with the possibility of getting their apartment complex taken away from them. That has happened in District A before. So that is the most extreme scenario, but that is a possibility of what could happen," explained Houston City Council Member Amy Peck.
Peck, the city council member for this area, acknowledges the serious issues with this complex and says she put some of her council funds towards overtime for the Houston Police Department's Apartment Enforcement Unit.
She encourages people living in sub-standard conditions to let her office know or call 311.
No one seems to know who runs this place. ABC13 went to the office on-site to talk to management. The employee there handed us a flyer with what they said was the management company. It wasn't.
We've asked the city with no clear answer. Names from state business records have been dead ends.
Meanwhile, these families are left living in terrible conditions until the city can take action against these absentee owners.
"It's just kind of become a common knowledge that this is the bottom of the barrel when it comes to complexes, and it's sad because there are a lot of good families that deserve better," he explained.