DENVER (KDVR) — The FOX31 Problem Solvers are exposing the top fined landlords in Denver and the conditions residents lived in while waiting for help.
Our investigation started with families calling the FOX31 Problem Solvers because they had no heat and were living in below-freezing temperatures with nowhere to turn. We wanted to know, what conditions are keeping tenants feeling unsafe in their apartments and what is happening with their complaints?
Denver’s Department of Public Health & Environment received the following number of complaints over the last three years:
- 2018: 1198
- 2019: 1268
- 2020: 700**
Currently Denver’s inspectors are only responding to emergency situations due to switching gears in 2020 during the pandemic to help with the city’s COVID-19 response.
Pictures and documents from city inspectors obtained by FOX31 capture rodent infestations, cobweb ridden corners, feces and urine smeared on apartment building and rental housing properties across Denver.
“In the hallways it is smeared on the walls and they are peeing in the drains, in our laundry room and everything,” Holly Apartments resident Lorenzo said. “I’ve complained to them, I’ve called them, I’ve done whatever I could, but they aren’t listening.”
“I’m trying to get out of here I’ve been here two years I can’t take it, I don’t live like this,” a tenant who wishes to remain anonymous in fear of retaliation at the Halcyon House Apartments said.
PK Management: Halycon House and Holly Apartments
The two residents live in downtown high rises where the city cited fined property management company PK Management after a series of complaints collected by DDPHE.
Read some of the official complaints here:
Records obtained by the FOX31 Problem Solvers reveal PK is the second most fined management company in Denver with $11,189 in fines issued in 2019. The fines were paid last year.
Denver Department of Public Health & Environment’s Investigations Manager Nicol Caldwell said fines are a last resort.
“We do see in some cases that notices are not doing the trick and that’s why we have escalated enforcement efforts,” Caldwell said.
The DDPHE received 32 complaints about PK management in 2019 and 13 in 2020.
Inspectors told the Problem Solvers that fines at the Halycon House, apartments for elderly and disabled residents, started with complaints about excessive moisture.
“It got so bad that there was black mold in the walls,” tenant Bo Samora said.
“Oh yeah, there was a lady who had her whole wall dug out and it was sitting like that for six months,” said a different Halycon House resident who wishes to remain anonymous.
FOX31 went into the Halycon House at 1955 Arapahoe St. to speak with management about the fines. We were referred to company’s corporate office, which sent us the following statement about both the Halycon House and the Holly Apartments:
“In early 2019, a resident smeared feces in the common area of the 1010 E. 17th building, which is a part of Holly Apartments. A third party contractor performed sanitation services to address the situation. However onsite management failed to send the documentation of the cleaning to the city in a timely fashion, causing fines and additional violations to be issued. However, the administrative issues were addressed by upper management and fines were paid prior to the end of 2019. No such incidents occurred in 2020 or 2021.”
“Similarly, the water leak at Halcyon House was addressed by a contractor, but the site team failed to submit proper documentation to the city to close out the matter timely. Halcyon House Apartments has no open violations with the city of Denver, as confirmed with the Public Health and Environment department. Any and all violations from 2019 were cured and cleared and did not continue into 2020 or 2021.”
Management emphasizes that these fines were due to administrative oversight, NOT a lack of responsiveness relative to the health safety issues themselves.
Pembrooke on the Green Apartments
DDPHE received 11 complaints for Pembrooke on the Green Apartments in 2019, seven last year.
“There’s some roaches like a mug over here,” resident John Colins said, adding “When I first got here stuff was falling apart left and right like it was made out of Legos and you call them to fix it, nothing happened.”
Fines for issues on the property make Pembrooke Owner LLC the number one most fined management company in the city stemming from complaints from 2018 and 2019 totaling to $16,084.
“Their main issue was a rat infestation,” Caldwell said. “With this case, our department conducted over 30 site visits, we issued at least seven notice violations or orders. We just were not seeing compliance in the beginning.”
According to the city, it took 12 administrative citations and a summons to appear in court to see the rat issue fully resolved. Fines were paid last year.
On April 18, Bridge Property Management provided the Problem Solvers with the following update about the Pembrooke on the Green:
“As the new ownership group of Pembrooke on the Green, we are aware of previous violations on the property and are fully committed to addressing any of these violations prior to our ownership. We are doing everything possible to rectify these concerns and in addition we are making several improvements throughout the community. Bridge Property Management prides itself on our reputation and we intend to make this an apartment community that residents will love to come home to.”
3021 E. Martin Luther King Blvd.
The third most fined rental property was located at 3021 E. Martin Luther King Blvd. Denver condemned the home after finding ‘a heavy volume of feces, urine … trash and waste” at the property. City inspections show the home was not connected to water utilities and the home’s electrical was not in sound condition. The owner was fined $4,046 and the home was eventually demolished.
How to get help
If you are a tenant in Denver and need assistance, call 311.
In Jefferson, Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties contact municipal code enforcement for help. County health departments may be able to assist, too.
“If it can be determined that a private property complaint is an immediate or imminent public health concern such as sewer line breaks or rodent infestations, department staff can issue a Notice of Violations to facilitate remediation or, in more extreme circumstances, seek injunctive intervention,” Tri-County Health Director Brian Hlavacek said.