Residents caught in water war between owner of apartments, city of Phoenix

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Residents at a Phoenix apartment complex are paying their rent but apparently the complex owner isn’t paying the water bill.

The city turned off the water at the Mirabella Apartments at Interstate 17 and Campbell Avenue earlier this week because the owner owes thousands of dollars in unpaid water bills.

“I'm aggravated.  I'm a little irked,” said Ira Savely, a resident who recently moved in.

The water has briefly come back on several times in the days since the city turned the water off and locked the water meter.  Residents said the intermittent water returns are due to other residents or maintenance going out to cut the lock on the meter.  Each time the city has gone back to shut the water off again.

Meanwhile, the apartment owner can’t be found. The Maricopa County Assessor lists the owner as SK Investments L.L.C. out of San Diego.  However, the phone numbers listed for SK are not in service.

“We really need our water.  Everybody paid rent.  We can't get our money back.  We can't get no water,” said one angry resident.

The water war reached a boiling point Thursday when, according to residents, the owner fired the apartment management and maintenance workers whey they refused to illegally restart the water by cutting the lock again.

“They told them to cut the lock off the water.  They said, ‘No, we're not going to do that.' The maintenance people said that," Savely explained. "And [the owners] said, ‘OK, you're all fired.’  So we don’t have any maintenance, we have no management."

With nowhere to turn, residents called the Phoenix Fire Department, which was able to broker a deal with the city to get water back on -- but only for a week.

“We had disabled children here -- a lot of children here as you can see, there's children all over the place.  And that's a big concern for us because everybody needs water,” Phoenix Fire Department spokesman Benjamin Santillan said.

The city’s Neighborhood Services Department will be at the apartment Friday to discuss options with the residents. 

Meanwhile, residents are not sure what to do when the water runs dry again in a week.

“We have to go to the corner store to use the restroom. We can't wash dishes, can't flush the toilet, can't wash our hands.  We can't basically do anything,” said a resident.

The city has been trying to reach the complex’s owner for months to resolve the unpaid water bill.  No word on where those efforts stand.