EXCLUSIVE: Landlord of 18th & K apartments speaks out

By: Jenn Schanz

A lot of angry renters Wednesday, after they went without hot water and heat for almost a week.

“Everybody’s upset about it,” says Bryon Wichman, one of the renters.

The apartments near 18 and K streets were at risk of being condemned if bills weren’t paid. The landlord, Vi Herndon, came up with the money to get the hot water back on, but says she’s not totally to blame.

The problem, she says?

Some tenants, who don’t pay rent and won’t leave.

“She gave me days she’s going to leave, and then has not left,” Vi says of one tenant.

Vi’s husband used to be the landlord; she says he opened his doors to people who otherwise might be on the streets, and would let them stay even when they were short on rent money.

When he passed away, she took over, but says her generosity has been taken advantage of. With more than a dozen tenants several months late in rent, Vi says keeping things afloat is a challenge.

Police can’t force the tenants out, because it’s a civil issue, but Ii says she can’t afford legal fees.

“It takes a lot of money to take them to court,” she says. 

All of Vi’s buildings now have hot water, but half are still without heat.

For the tenants who do pay rent, going without basic necessities is frustrating.

“To give a month’s rent and to not get your services that are promised to you, that will give you an irk,” Wichman says. 

Until Oct. 26th, the city is stepping in. They’ll pay for the heat and will wait to possibly condemn the building.

Vi says she hopes to have things in order by then, and get rid of renters who haven’t paid.

“I’m hoping to get my bills paid off, and keep the good people. The bad people, let go if I have to,” she says. 

The city says it’s out of the ordinary to step in like this, but officials say because many of the tenants are low income, they’re concerned people would become homeless.