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City Pays Late Utility Bills

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It's a simple proposition: if you don't pay your utility bills, your utilities get shut off. But it gets complicated when the person in charge of 70 apartments doesn't pay his bills. That's the problem at Sacramento's Cypress Gardens Apartments.

The apartments are generally clean, neat and well maintained. It seems like an attractive place to live. Now, however, residents are coping without lights, air conditioning or hot water. Tenants thought it was an equipment problem, but it turned out PG&E and SMUD shut off service because the landlord didn't pay.

Twice now in the past four months, the city of Sacramento has stepped in to pay the utilities because the landlord wouldn't. "Unfortunately we found out about this a day late," said Josh Pino of the Sacramento Code Action Team. "The utilities were shut off yesterday and it's going to take us a day or so to get them turned back on."

News10 asked property owner Darryl Robida why, with an estimated $30,000 in monthly rental income, he can't keep on top of the utilities. "Oh yeah, it's a mix-up," said Robida. "Accounting and numbers and stuff."

Tenants are unsympathetic. "No hot water, so I don't know what he thinks. We have kids and we need that water," said tenant Valentina Rodriguez.

Although the situation seems dire, there may be light at the end of the tunnel for the tenants of the Cypress Gardens apartments. Robida says his landlording days are over. The Cypress Gardens apartments are for sale. "I'm going on to bigger and better things," said Robida.

Meanwhile, the City of Sacramento is going to court to get a responsible caretaker appointed, until a buyer is found. When the apartment complex is sold, the city will recover the roughly $50,000 spent on delinquent utility bills.

(This story was provided by News10 KXTV Sacramento.)

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