NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Another apartment complex in central Arkansas is unfit to live in according to people paying to stay there. A seventeen-page report released Friday outlines the conditions inside the Jefferson Manor apartments.

Pictures and video provided by Arkansas Renters United show why every tenant we spoke to Friday is counting the days until they can move out.

“We’re just trying to make sure something happens. That’s why we’re speaking out,” stated Darlene Lewis, who has lived in Jefferson Manor for the last eight months.

Lewis called Arkansas Renters United who spent three months finding hazards, infestations, and unlivable conditions in apartments across the complex. Community Organizer for the group, Al Allen, helped document flooding, sewage issues, infestations, etc. She even found pictures of mushrooms growing out of a tenant’s 2nd-floor bathroom wall.

Allen said she has sent a copy of the full report to Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, the contract administrator for HUD over Jefferson Manor, and the owners in New Jersey who she adds also own Big Country Chateau.

“I just know the taste and smell of mold now from working out here,” Allen said.

Vivian Allen has lived in Jefferson Manor for seven years but says in recently things have been worse. She says her bathroom ceiling has leaked for two years. She claims to have informed maintenance time and again over multiple months.

“I don’t have any recourse other than what I’ve done,” Vivian said getting emotional over the state of her home.

To her testimony, maintenance eventually inspected and affirmed the problem she said but it has yet to be fixed. Vivian is currently in a hotel after living in a sewage leak for days.

“I had to put down sheets to get to the bathroom, so I wouldn’t break my neck trying to get through sewage,” Vivian recalled.

Darlene Lewis lived in an apartment she said had a mold problem for four months before being placed into another unit. She stated the new unit was just next door which concerns her as she says she can already smell the mold again.

Lewis alleges her grandson who also lived in the apartments went to the hospital with upper respiratory illness when he was just five months old, and she believes mold or mildew was the likely cause.

“I feel bad for the mothers with the four or five kids that just can’t get up and move away. They have to stay here and live through that,” Lewis lamented.

Our station reached out to the owners of the apartment, Apex Equity Group, for comment, but the property manager who answered did not think someone would be available until the following week as it was late Friday afternoon when we called.

Last year, the Arkansas Legislature passed Act 1052 which affected the rights and duties of landlords and tenants.

The most notable is the habitability standards that became a requirement of all rental agreements beginning November 1, 2021. These standards set basic requirements within all rental properties by which tenants must make sure they are supplied. Act 1052 is the first statewide rental requirement to be set in the state.

Arkansas is historically a pro-landlord state, meaning it has little written law establishing requirements for rental properties. The new requirements are as follows.

  • an available source of hot and cold running water;
  • an available source of electricity;
  • a source of potable drinking water;
  • a sanitary sewer system and plumbing that conform to applicable building and housing codes in existence at the time of installation;
  • a functioning roof and building envelope;
  • a functioning heating and air conditioning system to the extent that the heating and air conditioning system served the premises at the time the landlord and the tenant entered into the lease or rental agreement.

A landlord is deemed in compliance under the following circumstances:

  • if, at the time of possession, the landlord supplies the tenant a written form to list any defects and the tenant either sign the form without noting a defect and takes possession or fails to return the form within 2 business days; or
  • for defects that arise later, if the tenant delivers written notice but the noncompliance either could not be remedied because the tenant refused access to the landlord for purposes of correcting or was caused by the deliberate or negligent act or omission of the tenant, a member of the tenant’s family, another occupant of or visitor on the premises, or any person other than the landlord or the landlord’s agent.

You can learn more about Arkansas Tenant and Landlord law go to Arkansas.gov/consumer-protection.