LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — When the temperature in their rental hit 36 degrees in the dead of winter, college students Hailey Christian, Analiese Mitchell, and Logan Strunk decided they'd had enough and moved out of their rental.
"That was our last straw," said Christian.
Mitchell says they were living in a home on Park Avenue in Lexington, managed by First Place Properties, with unreliable heat since October.
"We'd have like six or seven blankets on each bed. We would all three pile on our bed and just tried to stay warm," explained Mitchell.
They filed maintenance requests on top of maintenance requests for the furnace. They even lit the pilot themselves on several occasions.
"The maintenance man came out and we did, we checked all these boxes that we were supposed to do, but eventually, the problem was not being solved," said Mitchell.
They sent a letter to the property owner on January 19th from a lawyer they got through their school stating the owner had two weeks to fix the issue or it was within their legal rights to move. They say they never received a response.
Eventually, they called Lexington's office of code enforcement who gave the property owner five days to fix or replace the furnace. But the fifth day came and went with no heat and they moved out the next day.
Since they moved, code enforcement gave the property owner an additional 30 days to fix the issue. When asked why we were told "typically, if the occupants have left, the urgency has also left."
The extension has left the tenants feeling like there's a lack of accountability.
"It's not like we're being very picky like 'hey, can you paint the walls or hey, come clean up around outside. We're cold," said Strunk.
The owner listed for the property has been cited for code violations five different times since 2018. All cases have since been closed or dismissed.
We found one instance where a $750 citation was reduced to $50 during a hearing after the owner appealed and resolved the issues.
"No regard, no respect. Obviously, this company is used to treating their tenants this way and clearly getting away with it," said Strunk.
When LEX 18 looked into the management company First Place Properties, we found out they rent out homes to many students in the University of Kentucky area. When we dug deeper, we went on Google and found several reviews with similar complaints of poor management and code issues.
The students say they're just thankful they did their research and had the privilege to move.
"We didn't really have a plan like that. Our landlord here saved us by taking a chance on us," said Mitchell.
They're advising students and others dealing with landlords to do the research and utilize the office of code enforcement.
"I don't want anybody else to have to go through this," said Strunk.