A Fresno landlord under fire, fires back

FRESNO, Calif.

The property manager says she simply cannot afford to pay the bills here. She says the owner is nowhere to be found. The property is for sale but in the meantime, it's going on a week without power.

These are not the conditions property manager Bettye Marshall says the tenants moved into five years ago, broken windows, moldy walls and rodents running wild. She says of the tenants who live here, few rarely if ever pay the $500.00 a month rent which included power and utilities. "They have never paid the full amount and some months I would pay it I would go into my savings to make it what it should be."

Marshall says she had no other choice but to pay less and less to PG&E. She showed Action News the skyrocketing power bill and her attempts to make partial payments. But, the gas and electric bill is not even in her name, it's in the property leasee's name. A man named Mahlon Williams. Marshall says the Bay Area resident hasn't contacted her for at least a year. "He fell off the face of the earth. Matter of fact I went looking for him this weekend, I can't find him."

Marshall never collected rent on the first of February and tenants say she told them to use the money to find a new place to live. But tenants like Tina McNealy aren't packing their bags, they say living without electricity is better than leaving.

McNealy said, "I'd rather be in this place in the dark than to be over there in a tent. That's what I'm saying. That's why I'm still staying here and that's why he's still staying here. We don't want to go out in the streets. We don't know where to go."

Marshall says the current unfit conditions have been at the hands of tenants who don't value or respect where they live. "Smoke detectors take them down for whatever reason throw those away. Break out windows at the rate of 5, 6 and 7 every weekend; I'm talking about $75 and $80 windows."

Tenants say they at least expect an official eviction notice that they have still never received.

"We ain't no nothings, you know what I'm saying? Just because we stay here because all the PG&E is supposed to be included we was paying $500.00 a month. Sometimes she would help us out but to shut us out, that's what I'm talking about."

The city of Fresno is trying to get in touch with the property owner or manager to resolve the problems here.

Action News did check the calls for service at this address with the police department. They have received 63 calls over the past year ranging from physical disturbances, to assaults to health related calls.

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