State cracks down on owner of illegal colonia after Action 4 News investigation
Fri, 21 Mar 2014 01:29:53 GMT —
Action 4 News first discovered the makeshift mobile home park near Donna after a concerned citizen notified us of families living in unsanitary conditions.
After walking through the site ourselves, we went straight to the Hidalgo County Health and Planning Department. Now, the Texas Attorney General's Office is also stepping in and taking action against property owners Jose and Rose Hilda Perez.
"Conditions [tenants] were living in were not even close to being up to standards. The report that was presented by Channel 4 did bring this particular area to light showing the major issues that were affecting the residents there."
We visited T.J Arredondo, Supervisor for Hidalgo County Planning Department, back in Feburary after we discovered the property near donna scattered with mobile homes.During our investigation, Action 4 News learned families were paying the landlord hundreds of dollars to live there.
"It was not recognized as a mobile home park. They're residential lots-they were planned and geared for single family residential lots, and they placed additional mobile homes and rented them illegally,"explained Arredondo.
It's why the county requested assistance from the state.
"You are required to provide infrastructure-connections to water and sewer and access to roads. If you don't have any of that, you can not do anything with that land," said Texas Attorney General Spokeswoman Teresa Farfan.
According to state investigators, not only did property owners, Jose and Rose Hilda Perez, fail to provide adequate utilities to their tenants, but the property was also a health hazard with trash, overflowing septic sewage and questionable drinking water.
"It was pretty bad. This is some of the worst cases we've seen. Our investigators determined that this is an unfit for human habitation area and constitutes a public health nuisance," said Farfan.
State prosecutors are also seeking penalties of up to $15,000 for each improperly leased lot. A temporary restraining order has been issued so the couple will is no longer able to lease or accept rent for the mobile homes until the property is cleaned up.
A hearing is scheduled for april 14th to obtain a temporary injuction against Jose and Rose Perez. It's requires them to provide alternative sources for drinking water and wastewater services to their tenants until the court issues a permanent injunction.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, you can call the Hidalgo County Planning Department at 318-2840, or to file a complant with the Texas Attorney General's Office, you can call 1-800-252-8011.