LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas. There is a struggle for power in the apartments of the Big Country castle. People living in the troubled Little Rock housing estate are worried they could be permanently evicted from their home.
For the second time since August, electricity and water companies have warned tenants at the Big Country Chateau apartments that services will be cut off if the landlord does not pay ignored bills.
On Monday, every door at the Big Country Chateau Apartments received a notice from Entergy that their electricity would be cut off in two weeks if the landlord didn’t pay the unpaid electricity bills. Utilities must be included in the rent paid by the tenant.
Central Arkansas Water also warned on Jan. 9 that their service would end on March 1, with no plans to reconnect it.
In August, previous Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said that Big Country Chateau and Apex violated the Arkansas Unfair Trading Practices Act. She said that the residents of the complex pocketed the money they paid for utilities and did not pay for water and electricity.
Kim Trace and her children have been living in Big Country Castle for three years now and are in the same situation as they were last summer.
“Again one square and everything is about to be cut off, and this time we really think it will be cut off,” she said. “I feel like they need to be a little more courteous to their tenants.”
Our team has reached out to Entergy Arkansas, Central Arkansas Water, the Attorney General and the City of Little Rock to find out what might happen in two weeks. Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr.’s communications director, Aaron Sadler, said the city is ready to help tenants.
“The City of Little Rock is available to provide accommodation vouchers, if needed, to help tenants remaining at the complex find temporary or permanent housing,” Sadler said.
Khasaunee Kerry, who has lived in the place for a year, said she welcomes the change, given that she lives with mold, a leaky ceiling and cockroaches.
“I literally get sick from being here, my health. We need help,” Kerry pleaded.
On Tuesday morning, Entergy said in a statement:
“Signs have been placed to give residents enough time to prepare in the event of a power outage due to lack of payment from the property owner. We have worked with the client on payments in the past and will continue to do so to avoid service disruptions.”
Hours later, Attorney General Tim Griffin contacted Entergy and Central Arkansas Water. Griffin sent a statement saying:
“I have contacted Entergy and asked them not to turn off the electricity to Big Country Chateau residents while we are suing their landlord for failing to pay their electricity bill. Entergy has agreed to extend the payment deadline while I seek remedies for landlord misconduct.
Entergy Arkansas Communications Manager Casey Kirschvink sent in an updated statement stating:
“We work with [the] The Attorney General’s Office seeks the protection of tenants through the judicial system. We will suspend the shutdown in accordance with the procedure developed by the Attorney General and the courts.”
Central Arkansas Director of Public Affairs and Communications Douglas Shackelford also submitted a statement. It says:
“Law 186 of the 90th General Assembly does not allow me to provide customer account information without the permission of the account holder, so I cannot answer specific questions about why this account may be closed or provide any financial information.
I can let you know that Central Arkansas Water (CAW) wanted to provide an extended grace period between the notice time and the shutdown date to allow residents to take any action they need to take in preparation for the shutdown. We hope Big Country Chateau management will work with CAW to resolve this issue and ensure that residents stay on the water supply.”
On top of the most recent panic, there are still some active security breaches when Little Rock Property Management discovered over a thousand security breaches at the Big Country Chateau in August.
It was not possible to contact the management of Big Country Chateau on Tuesday. Earlier it was reported that many tenants do not pay rent, which is one of the reasons for these problems. Some of those interviewed on Tuesday confirmed they were behind on payments. Others said they were innocent victims of a public utility panic.