Hurst Apartments Face City Code Enforcement Lawsuit

Lawsuit seeks court order to repair or demolish the structure

A Hurst apartment complex facing a code enforcement lawsuit had 775 violations and a roof so weak firefighters are forbidden from being up there for their own safety.

Those are some of the statements in the lawsuit filed this month by the City of Hurst against Dakota Place Apartments at 450 East Hurst Boulevard.

The lawsuit asks a judge to order the owner to repair or demolish the structure.

The City of Hurst Tuesday night approved fining the landlord more than $16,000. The city council says if the landlord can make roof repairs by Jan. 14, the fine may be reduced or recalled.

The landlord told NBC 5 he will apply for the permit and try to meet that deadline.

City officials have said they prefer code compliance to more extreme measures that would force tenants from their homes.

Former tenant Brett Stephanoff said he moved out of the complex last month after nearly four years.

He complained of repeated flooding of his ground floor unit during heavy rain. “When I moved out of there in October, I had about an inch of mud on the floor,” he said.

Stephanoff said the city should not let tenants stay.

“I don’t believe so. I think it’s a big health hazard, with the bug problems and the flooding and just electrical problems," he said. “It’s not safe.”

Owner Charles Mercer said the City of Hurst has treated him unfairly. He said enforcement increased when he fired a contractor who was recommended by a city inspector.

"That’s when my problems started," said Mercer. "So when I brought up talking about corruption in their department, that’s when they said, 'Oh we’re going to inspect all 77 units and any little small thing.'"

Mercer said the case of a 70-year-old tenant shows how the city is responsible for delays.

He said the woman was required to move out of her unit in 2018 because of roof problems.

“They said they would expedite the permit process to get her back in,” the landlord said.

Mercer said he applied for a roof repair permit in April 2018 that was never granted.

“We are willing. We submitted the paperwork. Every time they told us to change it. We got new information,” Mercer said.

Mercer said the claim of 775 code violations was exaggerated and is not accurate.

“Every violation inside the units has been fixed,” Mercer said.

Current tenant Melli Berneck said finding another two bedroom apartment for the $940 she pays at Dakota Place would be very difficult.

“How do I get there? I don’t have a vehicle. My neighbors two doors down don’t have a vehicle. So it’s not just finding a place. It’s getting to it,” she said.

Berneck said the city has not answered her questions about what will happen at the complex. She said she likes her apartment and her landlord.

“He’s real calm and a good guy. The city is gave me the run around so I’m sure they’re doing the same to him,” Berneck said.

City officials declined an interview Tuesday but City Attorney Matthew Boyle issued a statement saying the owner has refused orders since 2016 to make repairs.

“The City remains steadfastly committed to protecting the health safety, and welfare of the residents of the Dakota even if its owners are unwilling or unable to meet their obligations. The City of Hurst has been working for several years to ensure that the residents of the Dakota Place Apartments have a safe and habitable place to live. The City is now left no choice but to pursue enforcement of the outstanding violations,” the statement said.

Former tenant Stephanoff said the City of Hurst has not been tough enough.

“They haven’t done nothing. Everybody is just living in squalor over there,” he said. “I say get out now, while you can, while you still have your health.”

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