FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Nineteen days after the gas was turned off at Summerset Village Apartments in Central Fresno, construction crews began work on replacing the broken gas infrastructure on Tuesday. It could be another three weeks before the gas is turned back on.
It was the first real day on the job for Bill Nelson's construction crews at Summerset Apartments, as they trenched and waited for gas line materials to arrive. Nelson said they could start placing the new gas lines Wednesday morning.
Meanwhile, many residents, who have been without heat for nearly three weeks, will not paying rent. One man said he'll wait until things get sorted out. Kao Xiong is at least happy to see crews have started work, but also hasn't paid rent.
"Well I think if we're paying for rent we should get full services and since the gas lines out, they should at least make some adjustments for us, like maybe give us a free rent or work something out with us."
Fresno Attorney John Cadwalder said withholding rent isn't the safest choice for tenants, because the landlord could start the eviction process. "The tenant's best course of action is to seek proper legal representation."
But Cadwalder says renters in California have a strong form of defense against eviction, in what is known as a breach of the warranty of habitability. "Hot water and heat are two of those hot button issues that are clearly enumerated in the laws of our state that the landlord must provide."
By all accounts, it appears tenants here will not have to pay December rent.
The lawyer for property owner, Chris Henry, confirms he will not be collecting December rent. "That is great news. That's the news that we wanted because the steps to take, if he was going to be collecting rents, would have been challenging. They would not have been fun and it would have been a long process to make sure that that happened," said Zack Darrah, FIRM Executive Director.
"I really want the gas to work because it's been cold lately," said one resident.
Still, residents are without heat, and Nelson said it could be another three weeks before his crews finish their work. But said they will do their work as quickly and safely as possible.
On Thursday, three attorneys representing more than 100 Summerset tenants will hold a meeting with their clients discussing legal strategies and next steps moving forward.