Action 13 steps in for family who booked OYO Grand Inn, where mold, ants are some of the problems

Miya Shay Image
Friday, August 4, 2023
E. Harris Co. motel shuts down after fire marshal investigation
A motel that was supposed to have been closed months ago was still operating on Thursday before Action 13 stepped in.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- An investigation is underway by the Harris County Fire Marshal's Office after it was alerted to families staying in a motel under deplorable conditions.

The OYO Grand Inn on the East Freeway currently has an online booking rate of just about $40, but in reality, it's not even supposed to be open.

A viewer contacted Action 13 after booking a room there online, only to leave when he realized it was unsafe for his family. Acting on that tip, Action 13 went out to the hotel on Thursday morning.

ABC13 found little Aerial Baines still smiling despite clearly swollen eyes. Her father, David Baines, said her daughter had been bitten by ants while staying in the hotel.

They booked a room via OYO's website two days ago, because the photos showed clean rooms and a working swimming pool. Instead, they found a dirty, dilapidated room with bugs and mold.

"When we got here, the pool, the doors, everything was broken, and we didn't have as much money to get out of the hotel, so we wanted to be reimbursed," David Baines said.

However, the hotel's on-site operator told them she could not issue him a refund because he booked through a website.

Having been charged for a three-night stay, the family decided to tough it out, but by Thursday morning, they had enough. ABC13 spoke to them just as their Uber rolled up, and they left.

Jackie Gibbons does not have such a choice.

"I have no ID. Nobody else will rent to me," she said from her hotel room doorstep.

Gibbons knows her room is not safe. Mold was visible even when ABC13 was just standing outside.

Action 13 contacted the Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner's Office, which then directed us to the Harris County Fire Marshal's Office.

"Thank you for finding this. Thank you for notifying us," Fire Marshal Laurie Christenson said, showing up quickly with a number of investigators.

It turns out the hotel, which is located in Precinct 3, had a fire last year and was supposed to be closed for repairs. In fact, records show fire marshal inspectors visited the property in April, when it appeared to be closed.

"From all appearances, it was closed down. There were nobody in the office to appear they were open. So we have been checking back, and for whatever reason, they are open," Christensen said.

Christensen adds her agency is issuing the hotel a stop-work order and beginning a full investigation. In addition, the Precinct 3 Commissioner's Office is bringing some outreach services.

ABC13 also observed a Harris County Adult Services representative on site. The fire marshal's office also called an ambulance for one hotel resident who had cancer.

"It's hard times right now, and people are very understanding. The main thing is you're safe. We want to help you do that and take care of your family," she said.

Still, not everyone wants to leave. By charging just $30 to $50 a day, some residents said it's better than living on the streets.

As far as getting refunds, that's a challenge. OYO is a large tech company that operates as a hotel booking platform. The company is based in India, and ABC13 could not immediately locate a corporate office available for comment. The customer service line said it could not help.

If you know of any facilities in Harris County that is not safe for people to live in, the Harris County Fire Marshal's Office urges you to report the incidents on its website.

For news updates, follow Miya Shay on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.