AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — A tough situation is getting even more difficult for several families displaced by a Christmas Eve fire in Aurora. Options have run out and now they must find new homes by May 17.
A portion of the Shadow Tree Apartments was left with extensive damage after the fire, including the presence of exposed asbestos. Aurora Fire Rescue confirms the cause was accidental.
The management placed the residents at a nearby hotel.
“We can’t cook, we can’t eat, right. I go to work, come home and have to sit in one room,” said Moreen Luna, who is a grandmother.
Another resident, Antoinette Casi, told FOX31 that in many cases, four children are living in one room.
“The experience is horrible,” Casi said.
The residents received notice that they must vacate the temporary housing and remove items from their apartments by May 17.
The property management told the Problem Solvers the apartment building’s pipes must be replaced and asbestos must be removed before anyone can live in the damaged structure, but that could take months.
Residents are being released from their lease so they can find another place to live.
“Nobody can move out in 10 days. Nobody has that kind of money,” said Luna, who estimates moving expenses, including first and last month’s rent, could exceed $4,000.
What is a tenant’s right to temporary housing?
Real estate attorney and tenant rights expert Eric L. Nesbitt told the Problem Solvers that every renter should understand their right to temporary housing immediately after the occurrence of a fire.
“If that tenant did not cause the fire, then under the Warranty of Habitability law, notice is given to the landlord about the interference with their life and safety, and then the tenant can properly request that the landlord provide some comparable living space or a hotel. The tenant, of course, has to continue paying the rent,” he said.
The residents at the Shadow Tree Apartments were provided temporary housing for at least 90 days.
Nesbitt said beyond that, the lease determines how much notice any tenant will receive when it comes to the length of temporary housing.
“If there’s any language as to how much notice the landlord has to give if a fire occurs, if it’s silent on that, a reasonable amount of time would be at least 30 days for them to move out of their hotel,” Nesbitt said.
Every renter should check their lease before signing it for provisions in the case of a fire, water damage or any other emergency.
A GoFundMe is set up to help the families with moving expenses.
The Problem Solvers are looking for any facility or property that can help the displaced families. If you can help, contact email@example.com.