2018 brought a rough start to the New Year for some of the residents of Edgewater Apartments in Eaton Rapids. The complex that sits on the river started experiencing loss of hot water and reasonable living temperatures in December. Some 30 or so of the roughly 60 rented apartments experienced a loss of hot water, or heat. After several attempts to reach the company that owns the building, a formal complaint was filed to the city January 2.

Harvest Properties, a company with headquarters in Connecticut, owns Edgewater Apartments, along with other properties in different states. According to Mayor Paul Malewski, the last several weeks have been a series of failed communication and action on the part of Harvest Properties. The company’s onsite leasing agent attempted to contact the company with little to no success.

LeRoy Hummel, the City of Eaton Rapids’ building official, intervened and an inspector was brought on site. According to Malewski, Jan. 5 to 7 was spent trying to restore heat for residents. A significant amount of time was spent inspecting boilers, ordering parts, and making adjustments that would get residents back to appropriate comfort. By Jan. 11 and 12 it seemed as though the issues were resolved.

Then, over the weekend, the problems were back to square one.

“Over the weekend everything crashed,” said Malewski.

Apparently it’s the same 30 or so residents who are still affected, and not the whole of the apartment complex. Still, the lack of action on behalf of Harvest Properties is what has ultimately kept the issues going for nearly the last month. With consistently subzero temperatures, the city council moved to fine Harvest Properties over $100 per room until the issue is addressed. The company has 15 days to respond to the violation notices before the fines jump to $300 per room.

According to Malewski, the costs of the fines are set by city code, but a judge could ultimately set the costs at a later date. The question now in the minds of the affected residents is whether or not they’ll have to pay rent for utilities that have not been available for several weeks. Not to mention the question of how long it will take before the issues are resolved.

“The folks that live there are the ones who have been suffering through this,” said Malewski.

This is certainly not what he expected coming into his first term as mayor, but Malewski and Hummel, as well as other officials from the city, have received praise for their efforts to intervene and fix the heat and water problems.