“I don’t want to live like this and I shouldn’t have to.” Rapid City tenants frustrated with living conditions

RAPID CITY, S.D. — We’ve covered the affordable housing crisis before, but with it comes a concern for actual livability, something even Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender has noticed.

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A tweet from Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender (March 10, 2022)

Several individuals across Rapid City reached out to NewsCenter1 in the past few weeks raising concerns about their living conditions. Some at an apartment complex and another in a single-family rental home, both in North Rapid. Others have come forward since.

Tina Marzolf has lived at Hainesway since December 2020.

“In October, we went a week-and-a-half without hot water and we were told that they were going to prorate it…and that we could use the swimming pool shower…and that’s for the whole building.”

A number of residents say besides hot water issues, they have mold, ants, and even mice moving between apartments.

“With the management here in the building, they say that they’re the ones taking care of these issues, and there’s no one higher than them. That’s an issue. That means that everybody who has issues has nobody to go to,” says another Hainesway resident who wished to remain unidentified.

The Hainesway residents even gathered with a local tenants coalition to explore their options.

“You know, if you’re paying rent and paying full rent, you should expect heat and hot water and the basic essentials to live,” the unidentified tenant says.

Marzolf also says she has new charges on her monthly bill, despite having receipts showing amounts paid in full. She said she brought those charges and receipts to NWE Property Management President and Director Todd Hollan and received no resolution.

Marzolf says she doesn’t like the idea of having to move, but the continual issues make it a difficult situation.

“I don’t want to live like this…and I shouldn’t have to,” Marzolf says.

In a written statement provided to NewsCenter1, Mr. Hollan said:

“Hainesway Apartment complex handles the concerns and tenant needs through our maintenance staff and third party vendors in the effort to get concerns completed as soon as possible.  These concerns have been addressed and proper actions have been deployed to remedy things that have failed and this protocol will continue.  We have gone over tenant accounts with them from time to time and have made immediate changes if there has been something found to be incorrect, if not the tenant account stays waiting for the payment to come in for reconciliation.  Our office is available via email and phone messages, if it is after hours or the weekend for maintenance concerns, the office phone number turns over to our after hours service for immediate attention.  Our staff along with contracted vendors respond to take care of the issue.  Our heating system is boiler heat, using only hot water pipes and registers to transport the heat from room to room throughout the buildings and I am unsure how rodents could use this as a conduit to move through our the buildings. Regarding heat malfunction, our HVAC Boiler heat vendors have been able to fix any boiler issues with in a day, individual register valves can be taken care of usually in a 1 day timeframe, and electric heat assist is always supplied until that is corrected. We do have security come through the complex, as others in the evening, this provides eyes and ears for what is going on after the office hours have been completed.  Our reports show that the Security company is providing the service we expect, and are providing information to us. Thank you for taking the time to contact us with your story, NWE Management Company is contracted to manage Hainesway Apartments for Andesite Holdings.”

Others in Rapid City reached out about similar issues with rental management, like Andrew, who lives in a single-family rental that’s been dealing with unresolved sewage issues.

Andrew gave us a tour of his basement, which is backed up with raw sewage and gas – a major health hazard he says the rental company knew about before moving him in.

NewsCenter1 also reached out to Westloft Holdings and were referred to their attorney. We have reached out to the attorney and have received no reply as of the time of publication.

We took pictures of the mess and showed them to the City, who says that people with these issues have to reach out.

Lon Schnittgrund, a code consultant and plans examiner for the City of Rapid City Building Services Division, says, “I think a lot of people have the idea that it’s going to be a quick fix; if I just call the City, it’s just going to get taken care of. But unfortunately that’s just not the case.”

“Quick action is going to have to be taken by the tenant to protect themselves and their families just as much as they can,” says Jennifer Utter, an assistant city attorney for the City of Rapid City.

The fear of repercussion looms for anyone filing a complaint, and despite retaliation being illegal, the City recognizes that may dissuade residents from reaching out.

Andrew and the others we spoke to said they’re hardworking people just trying to survive.

“I think basically they know that there’s nowhere else to go so that they can do this,” Marzolf says.

“That’s wrong…ethically wrong…and we are human beings…we’re not animals,” the unidentified tenant adds.

NewsCenter1 reached out to Andesite Holdings, which contracts NWE Property Management to manage Hainesway, and when talking about the complaints, was told, “I’m sure you will find most to be unwarranted.”

Since the public complaints about Hainesway emerged, NewsCenter1 has been contacted by multiple tenants at different properties across Rapid City with similar concerns. 

Contact for the City of Rapid City City Attorney’s Office: click here

Contact for the City of Rapid City Building Services Division: click here

Contact for West River Tenants United: click here

Information on NWE Property Management: click here

Information on Andesite Companies: click here

Information on Westloft Holdings: click here 

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