Lawrence residents frustrated with sewage backup in apartment - KCTV5

Lawrence residents frustrated with sewage backup in apartment

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Residents in a Lawrence apartment are frustrated after being told it is unsafe to live in their apartment due to a sewage backup. (Picture provided by Bryce Curtis) Residents in a Lawrence apartment are frustrated after being told it is unsafe to live in their apartment due to a sewage backup. (Picture provided by Bryce Curtis)
LAWRENCE, KS (KCTV) -

Tenants say they are paying to live in an unsafe apartment with mold, exposed wiring, raw sewage and rodents. 

A text from their landlord two days before Thanksgiving told them not to use their showers or toilets because of a complete sewage failure. A Porta-John was dropped off by the landlord instead of paying for a hotel for the tenants to stay in.

One of the tenants, Bryce Curtis, noticed the problem when he was showering.

“We were taking a shower and raw sewage came bubbling up through the drain,” he said. “With the rat and mouse feces everywhere and also the mold problem, I want this place condemned."

Curtis said they reported the sewage issues to their landlord, Margretta de Vries about a month ago. Another tenant, Whitney Anderson, is worried for the safety of her family and herself, as she is 39 weeks pregnant.

“If my ten or eight-year-old need to use the restroom, they have to go downstairs to the back alley in the cold,” she said. 

A text from de Vries told Anderson to sponge bathe herself and her four children, then to dump the water over the balcony. 

“This is disgusting,” Curtis said. “She is expected to go up and down a rickety flight of stairs.” 

Both tenants want to terminate their leases and be reimbursed. De Vries said because of the Thanksgiving holiday, Monday was the earliest she could get someone to come work on the sewage issue. 

“I think the right thing for her to do originally knowing these deficiencies in her apartment would have been to never rent to anyone,” said Anderson.

The landlord told KCTV5 that she does not currently have a rental license because she officially took ownership of her late father’s property this past Tuesday.

She says she did sign lease agreements with both tenants as an executor of the estate back in July. Both tenants believe the leases aren’t legally binding.

The tenants reached out to the city of Lawrence and a code enforcer is expected to come out Monday or Tuesday to inspect the property. 

A generous stranger is helping pay for the Anderson family to stay at a hotel until Monday. Curtis is paying out of pocket to stay in a hotel.

A GoFundMe has been created to help support the tenants. 

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