Eleven residents were displaced from the Dakota Place Apartments on Sunday when overnight storms blew off a tarp covering the roof sending rain into the units, officials said.
The roof at the apartment complex has been the center of a lawsuit involving Dakota Place owner Charles Mercer and the city of Hurst.
Hurst Fire Chief David Palla said the tarp had been covering an ongoing roof repair and it had been blown over to one side letting rain into the upstairs apartments and lower units.
The latest news from around North Texas.
Palla said the owner was working to make sure everyone had a place to stay until they could return.
"Thankfully it was not a collapse or due to severe weather," he said.
Mercer said Sunday that crews were in the middle of replacing the roof, which he said was a two-week process, and that six of the displaced residents have returned.
In a code enforcement lawsuit against Charles Mercer, the city asks the court to require that outstanding violations are corrected as well as injunctive and civil penalty relief.
The suit says the complex has at least 775 violations, a claim Mercer has said is exaggerated and inaccurate.
In June, the city of Hurst filed a 343-page second amended petition in the 352nd judicial district in Tarrant County further detailing the extent of the disrepair to the complex and ongoing issues with the roofs of all four buildings that stretch back to 2015.
"A third party engineer concluded over a year ago that the roofs on all four buildings at Dakota Place are near the end of their serviceable life and need to be re-roofed," the petition said.
The petition asks for an order granting the appointment of a receiver to manage Dakota Place and complete the repairs and implement steps to curb criminal activity at the property.
Mercer has 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.
The total civil penalties assessed against the Mercers exceed $200,000, according to Assistant City Attorney Matthew Boyle.
Boyle has said the city has "exercised restraint" about revoking the complex's certificate of occupancy based on tenant concerns that they may not be able to find a better place to live, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.
The petition alleges that tenants are reluctant to complain out of fear of retaliation and that even with pending litigation, and that the Mercers have done roof repairs without licensed engineer oversight and performed work without a permit.
Boyle said in a statement from the city in May that Mercer locked out a tenant who had recently received a kidney transplant "in apparent retaliation" for complaints made about the conditions at the complex, including ceiling leaks and rampant mold.
The Mercers were initially told to replace the roofs on all four buildings at the Dakota Place on June 27, 2016.
As of the June filing, none of the roofs had been replaced, inspected and approved, according to the petition.
City records show permits were issued June 11 for the property at 450 East Hurst Boulevard to repair the boiler room fire rated walls.
Additional permits valued at $40,000 were issued June 30 to re-roof building four. The permit description states that engineer reports of the concrete panels, roof and supplemental support should be submitted to the city upon engineer reviews before, during and after the work begins.
In an email, Boyle called the latest incident "an unfortunate validation of the City's conclusion years back that all of the roofs needed to be replaced."
"Further this reaffirms the historic and repeated failures of Mr. Mercer to meet even the most basic responsibilities as a landlord," he said.
Water was leaking Sunday into the second-floor apartment of Carlos Guardado, who has lived there for the last three months with his family.
The bulk of the damage was to the bathroom from ceiling structures that fell and in the living room.
Guardado said he was not there when the damage happened and that he had been working with management. He guessed that repairs that were being done may have contributed to the damage.
"The floor is very wet but management has already started to do their due diligence," Guardado said in Spanish. "We've been told they will come and repair electricity. They're not telling us to move. I'm worried if it continues to rain because it will continue to get wet."
A trial for the case has been reset for the week of Jan. 25, 2021.