Complex punishing tenants for late rent by taking away front doors

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by Drew Karedes / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on December 13, 2013 at 11:12 PM

Updated Saturday, Dec 14 at 12:09 AM

HOUSTON -- A southwest Houston complex is under fire after tenants say they were punished for late rent in a cruel and unusual way.

At least three residents at Villa de Cancun, in the Sharpstown area, claim their front doors were removed.

That includes Jacqueline Greene, a 27-year-old single mother of three.

Greene admits she is two months behind on her rent. She knew she was in a bind but couldn’t believe her eyes when she returned home last week.

“It’s humiliating, embarrassing and shameful,” said Jacqueline Greene. “It’s almost barbaric.”

Greene says she thought somebody had broken into her home at first. She looked around and saw that nothing was stolen inside her second story unit.

She then went to the leasing office to sort things out.

“She says, you have to pay $600 today if you want to get your door back,” explained Greene.

Greene says the complex refused to set up a payment plan.

She says she slept three nights in the door-less apartment with her three kids, ages 2, 8 and 9.

“Someone could’ve came in here. There’s child molesters and crazy people out there,” said Greene.

A neighbor, also a single mother, says her door was taken too.

“At first, I was like, what apartment complex does this? Like, are you serious,” recalled Nathalie Clayton. “When you don’t have anywhere else to go, it’s kind of hard to come up with the money, especially when you’re doing paycheck to paycheck.”

These residents say the complex threatened to take their appliances as well.

Houston Housing Association tells KHOU none of this is legal under Texas law.

“It’s very unusual for us to hear about a manager removing a door for non-payment of rent,” said Aimee Arrington with Houston Apartment Association.

The association says it told Villa de Cancun that it was breaking the law.

According to residents, their doors were returned shortly thereafter.

State law says the residents who had their doors taken are eligible to get out of their leases. They could also recover a month’s rent plus $1,000 dollars.

KHOU reached out to the leasing office and the complex’s attorney, and calls have not been returned.

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