October 18, 2006
Water and electricity...they're two everyday necessities many of us take for granted. But several families in Augusta are being forced to do without them.
They say it all stems from one landlord who owns three different trailer parks, all of them with one big problem.
With no running water, dirty dishes have been piling up for three days in Diane Hodges' kitchen sink.
To make matters worse, her family doesn't have any power right now either.
"I've got a 14-year-old kid. He's got to get up and take a bath to go to school," she told News 12. "I got to be able to see. There's laundry to be done."
Her daughter Dianna Laws, who lives next door in the same trailer park, says she's been trying to care for her three small kids in the dark with no running water and is considering moving out.
"It's been hard," Laws said.
They say it's all because of the landlord.
Their utilities have always been included in the rent, until recently, when the landlord asked them to put it in their own names.
That wouldn't be a problem, they say, if the landlord had paid Georgia Power.
"We can't [put the bills in our names] until she pays her bills," Laws said.
This isn't the only place that landlord owns, and, unfortunately, it wasn't the only one with problems.
Just down the road on George Street, Sandra Johnson has been without power for two and a half months...and without gas for three months.
"No gas, and it's been cold nights," she told News 12.
Willie Judge used to live under the same landlord until he finally had enough.
"Every time I turn my back, it's the power. If it's not the power, it's the gas," he said. "I'm happy now. Don't have to worry about it."
The problem is forcing many of them out of their homes, whether they wanted to move or not.
"I like it here, because it's quiet, but I hope they can get it together so we can stay," Johnson said.
"I've been going to motels to make sure [the children] get their baths. That's the best I can do," Laws said.
The landlord tells us her husband actually owns the property, but he's in prison, so she's doing the best she can.
We asked her for a copy of the tenant's contract, but we haven't gotten it yet.
If you have a dispute with your landlord, here are some resources to help.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has information about tenants' rights in Georgia; click here.
For information on what you should do when you have a dispute, click here.
You can call a toll-free hotline at 800-369-4706 for information.