Valdosta Daily Times

September 18, 2013

Woodstone water woes

Adam Floyd
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Water service has returned to a Valdosta apartment complex after city officials brokered an agreement with the management company regarding the property’s delinquent water bill.

The residents at Woodstone Apartments on East Park Avenue were confused and outraged Monday after water was shut off to the entire complex just before noon. Water service is included in monthly rent charges, and the property’s management, The Woodlark Companies of Miami, Fla. is responsible for making utility payments to the City of Valdosta.

“The water was back on about 5:15 p.m. People around here couldn’t get in contact with the office. The phones had been turned off. We heard they hadn’t paid the bill,” said Peggy Krizovsky, a Woodstone resident. “I sat outside and watched everyone fussing and getting in their cars and driving to the office to complain.”

Calls to the management office at Woodstone were referred to the parent company in Miami.

According to City of Valdosta Public Information Officer Sementha Mathews, the water bill for the Woodstone Apartments was in excess of $45,000. City officials, including Deputy City Manager for Administration Mark Barber, had been working for months with The Woodlark Companies’ financial representatives to resolve the issue.

Water service was restored Monday afternoon after the City of Valdosta agreed to accept a portion of the payment by Wednesday. The payment has already been received.

“The City of Valdosta is pleased to have received on Tuesday a large portion of the payment due from this company, with an understanding that the remainder of the payment will be received soon.  While the non-payment of the apartment management inconvenienced a number of residents in our community, the city was able to reach an agreement with the company and water services were restored by the end of the day Monday.  

These are citizens that we care about and are certainly pleased that an agreement could be reached for everyone’s benefit,” said Mathews.

The Valdosta Daily Times obtained a copy of a current Woodstone Apartment lease contract along with a copy of a document titled “Addendums, Agreements and Community Policies.” According to these documents, residents have little legal recourse in the event that the property does not provide agreed upon utility services.

Part A of the Utilities section of the contract addendum states, “Landlord shall not be liable to Resident(s) for any failure to provide any utilities  and/or services or for injury or damage that may arise from the temporary or permanent interruption of one or more such utilities and/or services.”

Woodstone residents have made the Times aware of other concerns about the property.

“A tree fell [Monday] in the midst of the water situation. Kind of symbolic. Lawn care had stopped for some time in the summer due to lack of funds from corporate. At least, that is what the manager says. The grass is cut, but the trees around my apartment need to be trimmed. Residents also do not receive pest control,” said Brianca Holloman, a Woodstone resident.

Holloman supplied photos documenting the general condition of the property, including exposed nails, fallen tree limbs and overgrowth.

“I pay [my rent] on time every month...Maintenance hasn’t been to my apartment in months to fix what’s broken, and one pool still has green water, which is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. This, as it was explained to me by the property manager, is all because Woodlark Companies did not pay the bills,” said Holloman.

The Times contacted The Woodlark Companies to give them the opportunity to address the situation but despite initially stating they would comment, no returned calls or emails were received.

“I feel like I was misled, and really have to stay on them for any maintenance issues. The street lights were even off for about two weeks starting the 28th of August, and it was pitch black out here. We’ve been told several times that it’s corporate. We want to know why corporate isn’t taking care of things,” said Krizovsky