Phoenix puts heat on apartment complex with no air conditioning

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- People who live at a Phoenix apartment complex said they haven't had air conditioning for three weeks and now the city of Phoenix tells 3TV it’s been constantly hounding the property’s owner to clean up the place.
The city cited Woodbridge Apartment’s owner, Los Angeles-based HK Realty Inc., with more than 400 criminal violations back in August 2012. Just last week, city officials were back out inspecting the property and plan to add a couple dozen new citations to the criminal complaint.

Fines for HK Realty could end up eclipsing $1 million if the complex is found guilty on all counts and slapped with the maximum penalty.
“We have the opportunity to designate properties 'slum properties' in the city of Phoenix and this property may well qualify for that and we may well go down that road,” said Tim Boling, deputy director of the Phoenix Neighborhood Services Department, which polices all rental properties in the city.
Many of the problems at Woodbridge, according to Boling, relate to the air conditioning. 
On Monday, Woodbridge resident Jennifer Pearce invited 3TV into her unit where a thermometer showed the temperature was 95 degrees inside the master bedroom. Pearce had copies of the official complaint she filed with the apartment’s management back on May 2.  
The property uses three massive units to cool the entire complex. While crews were seen working on at least one of the units on Tuesday, Boling said an independent contractor told city officials two of the units can’t be fixed and will need replacing at a price of about $1 million each.
“They paid over $5 million cash for the property, so I think they have those resources available,” said Boling, noting that HK Realty also owns several other Phoenix apartment complexes which were all bought with cash. He also said those properties are in a similar state of disrepair.
But Boling also told 3TV the problems at Woodbridge go well beyond the AC. Flooding, dead animals, pests and poorly maintained staircases were the cause of many criminal citations. 
One resident told 3TV he has rats that have chewed through his cupboard and regularly tear into his food.
“To have a human staying in these conditions and still be paying rent … it doesn’t make sense to me,” said Erik Furlong, a resident at Woodbridge.
The criminal case against Woodbridge goes to court in July. Woodbridge and HK Realty will also be in court May 24 to address nearly 100 civil citations.