Authorities have issued an arrest warrant for a landlord who owns a Hartford apartment complex deemed unlivable by federal housing officials.
The Barbour Garden Apartments fell into such disrepair that the Department of Housing and Urban Development pulled the contract in February. They’ve been working since then to get the residents, who occupy 68 units in the complex, relocated.
The Hartford Fire Department requested the warrant for Martin Rothman, owner of Adar Hartford Realty, LLC, due to numerous code violations dating back to October 2018, including a broke alarm system and blocked exits.
“We will hold everyone accountable who doesn’t abide by state statue and standards as it pertains to fire safety,” said Chief Reginald Freeman of the Hartford Fire Department.
Barbour Garden Apartments lost its federal housing contract after receiving a failing grade from inspectors. It received a nine out of 100. A passing score is 60.
“Right now, it’s a game with our lives,” Tasha Jordan, a Barbour Garden Apartments Tenant said.
HUD spokesperson Rhonda Siciliano said Barbour Garden Apartments are on round the clock fire watch because of the broken alarm system. Siciliano and Freeman said Rothman was ordered to hire a private company to conduct the watch, and that the city’s fire marshals routinely check to make sure there is someone keeping watch.
Residents who spoke out about their living conditions at rally in February say they are being ignored and retaliated against.
“I think they just don’t care. I think they just don’t care,” said tenant Betty Wadley. “I absolutely do believe that they are doing stuff out of spite at this point,” she said.
She said the property manager recently blocked the tenants’ access to the complex’s washing machines and turned off the heat.
“It gets really cold in the apartment, like my floors are really cold right now,” Wadley said.
Wadley said she and her neighbors use their kitchen stoves to keep warm.
That’s a recipe for disaster according to Freeman, especially given the fact that fire alarm system is not up to code in at least two of the buildings and exits are blocked.
Other issues, like mold and rodents, which tenants brought to the attention of housing officials earlier this year still haven’t been dealt with and are only getting worse, they said.
HUD plans to sever its contract with Rothman but can’t do so until all of the occupants are relocated. Until then, he’s getting over $62,000 a month from HUD for the property.
“It’s going to be a rough time until we leave here,” said Jordan.
“Some nights it’s hard to sleep, not knowing what’s going to take place the next day,” added Wadley.
Tenants also complained that the property manager refuses to return their calls about issues in their apartments and won’t answer the office door.
“It’s crazy because we still live here,” said Jordan.
Jordan got a doctor’s note stating she should be relocated because the mold in her apartment was so bad it was causing her daughter’s asthma.
“It takes over the house, it goes up over the walls to the bedroom to where the mold is just growing out with the mushrooms, it’s just bad” she said.
Wadley reported that she’s been calling for months to get her bathroom fixed. She said her ceiling leaks whenever the neighbor on the floor above her takes a shower, causing a gaping hole. She said her shower also leaks into the apartment below.
“I can’t even count anymore. I can’t even count anymore. It’s been over 10 times,” said Wadley of the number of times she’s made service calls to get it fixed.
Residents are losing patience with HUD too, wondering why they still haven't been relocated. The situation brought tears to Wadley’s eyes.
“It’s traumatizing for us to be left here with no direction, nobody telling us what’s going on,” she said.
“We anticipate it will take approximately 120 days to relocate all of the residents from Barbour Gardens, our hope is we can do it sooner,” said Rhonda Siciliano, a spokesperson for HUD’s New England office.
In the meantime, Siciliano said HUD is working to address issues in the individual units and has even offered to move residents living in the worst units to hotels.
“The situation on the ground at Barbour Gardens is a real challenge. When we have an owner that is not cooperative it is difficult to get these things addressed,” she said. "It is not what any of us want.”
Wadley said she’s doing everything she can to make sure she doesn’t end up in a similar situation.
“I don’t want to move up the street. I don’t want to move around the corner. I want to go somewhere where it’s safe, quiet, clean.”
On Thursday, HUD officials plan to meet with Barbour Garden tenants for the next step in the relocation process. Siciliano said it could take up to 120 months to get everyone relocated.
NBC Connecticut has reached out to Rothman and Adar Hartford Realty multiple times but never heard back. Freeman said if he doesn’t turn himself in he will be arrested.