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News5 Investigates: Code violations at "unlivable" Springs apart - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

News5 Investigates: Code violations at "unlivable" Springs apartments

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After a tenant came forward to show News5 the "unlivable" conditions she says are inside her Colorado Springs apartment, News5 found out she is not alone.

We found complaint after complaint, a long history of similar issues at the same exact apartment complex.

"We tape our door every night to keep the air and the cockroaches out of our unit," Nikki Butler, a tenant at the Pine Creek Village Apartment complex said.

Butler has lived in this complex for less than a week.

"They told me that they had everything under control, that everything was going to be done before we move in," she said.

But as News5 Investigates exposed on Tuesday, she's already found cockroaches, cracked counters, faulty appliances and carbon monoxide.

"We would have never moved here if we knew that their views were going to be that bad, that he was going to be a slum landlord," she said.

Butler's furnace has been fixed but problems at her complex abound. 

The City of Colorado Springs' Code Enforcement team tells News5 they received a total of 657 apartment complaints city-wide in 2016. But News5 found out, nearly a sixth of those came directly from tenants in this complex.

That's 107 complaints in one year with 12 cases still open and unresolved.

"It's certainly a high percentage of complaints," Mitch Hammes, the city's Neighborhood Services Manager said.

The majority of those have been roach or bedbug infestations and leaky pipes. 

Hammes tells News5, in these situations, his team gets involved when the landlord and tenant can't work things out.

"If there is a violation of the city's housing codes, then we issue a notice and order to abate and we give the property owner time to correct the problem," he said.

While some issues could take days to fix, others could take months.

"If it was really bad and there was just no response and no willingness to comply then we could issue a summons and bring the property owner or manager into court," he said.

But News5 wanted to know, why does this keep happening?

"Well, that's a good question," he said. "The majority of complaints are stuff that can be repaired, and then they get damaged again. the pipes start to leak, the roaches come back."

News5 Investigates found that many cities across the country have so-called "slumlord laws" that allow code enforcement, building inspection and building safety departments to look at patterns of complaints instead of individual cases. Colorado isn't one of those states.

"It is frustrating when there are a high number of cases at a particular address but just know that we're doing the best we can and we'll help in any way possible," he said.

After getting an overwhelming amount of calls and emails about similar complaints from current and former residents, News5 Investigates is now looking into the pattern of problems and what state and local lawmakers are doing about it.

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