Burst water pipe exacerbates problems at Flint’s Richfield Court Apartments

Published: Feb. 11, 2021 at 6:21 PM EST
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (2/11/2021) - The living situation at the Richfield Court Apartments complex on Flint’s east side is getting worse.

A tenant shares water pipe burst in one of the buildings, causing giant formations of ice to attach on one building.

Flint officials have been paying closer attention to the Richfield Court complex after condemning the Sunset Village Apartments off Ballenger Highway last week. Someone apparently cut or stole the water pipes there, leaving about 15 tenants with no heat or running water.

The same Florida-based owner controls both complexes.

April Dumas, a resident at Richfield Court, said she has tried to get a hold of the property owners, but she said the numbers she has either don’t work or no one answers. ABC12 tried to call the office number listed for the complex last week and it was out of service.

Dumas is wondering who is going to pay for repairs even if someone comes to repair the pipes.

“I just, I can’t, I can’t even believe it to be honest, because, like that, there’s a window underneath there,” she said.

Dumas lives on the same floor as the apartment with the broken water pipe, which she believes has been vacant since October. She said the pipe burst five or six days ago and ice built up outside from water seeping through the walls.

Dumas says the people who live in the unit next to that apartment and the unit below quickly moved out after the flooding started, fearful that the walls, floor and ceiling will cave in.

“It frightens me. It scares me because like, what if the building collapses. I’m really scared,” she said.

Dumas has three young children and she said other families on her side of the building also have children. She said her husband could repair the burst water pipe, but he doesn’t want to cut off water for everyone left in the building and they don’t want to face a bill for the work.

With the landlord absent, Dumas is not sure whether they’ll get reimbursed. They haven’t been able to get a hold of anyone in the complex’s office -- even to pay rent. She hasn’t seen anyone in the office since last fall.

Dumas said she and her husband both lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic, so moving out of the complex won’t be easy.

“We’re financially working on getting out of here,” she said. “Trust me, that is a definite plan.”

The flooded building is only part of the problem at Richfield Court Apartments. Several other buildings in the complex have broken windows and significant fire damage while the dumpsters in the complex all are overflowing with garbage.

Patsy Barkley, the spokeswoman for the property owner, said she was not aware of the burst pipes at Richfield Court. She has been visiting Flint since Sunday and briefly looked over the complex.

Barkley said she isn’t happy with the condition of the property and she couldn’t explain how it got so bad.

“I’m sorry. I don’t, I don’t know how it got to that position, OK,” she said. “I don’t live in Flint. I’m a Florida resident, so I’m back and forth, but I’m not back and forth that often, so I don’t know how it got to that point.”

Both dilapidated apartment complexes in Flint are under the names Flint 770 Investment LLC and Mazel Tov Investment 770 LLC.

Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley said two buildings in the Richfield Court complex have been condemned and four others are slated for demolition. The city’s building safety team will be checking the rest of the complex to see whether it remains livable.

“We’re going to monitor it,” Neeley said. “But hopefully, as we understand it from our communications with the owner, is that they’re trying to sell these businesses and these structures to another business that will be able to maintain these properties better.”

He believes the situation at Richfield Court and Sunset Village shows how “absentee landlords” run a property into the ground before washing their hands of it. Neeley said that’s not how it should be done, but “profiteers” found a loophole in the system.

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