The owners of a downtown Bismarck apartment building that had its electricity shut off for two days this week due to an unpaid bill have had past issues with delinquent property taxes, Better Business Bureau complaints and at least one construction lien.
Tenants on Thursday said power was restored late Wednesday to the four-story, 74-unit Sunrise building that is home to low-income residents and people with disabilities. Tenants had their power cut Tuesday after the building owners didn’t pay the electricity bill.
Co-owner Taylor Rash on Thursday declined to tell the Tribune how much the company owed Montana-Dakota Utilities before the power was shut off.
"That's between us and MDU," Rash said. He also said the company inherited the problem in 2017 from previous owners. He and co-owner Tom Doll signed the mortgage in August 2017, county records show.
"When the building was purchased in 2017, we inherited a past-due balance, which MDU was working with us on. So they were basically allowing us to pay that value each month," Rash said. "So we weren't really behind; it was just working back from a delinquency from previous ... ownership."
After residents began seeing notices on their doors from MDU, Rash said, the Sunrise Apartments property manager had a "family emergency and had to leave town." She did not pay MDU the utility bill by the Sept. 1 deadline, he said.
"She didn't get that bill paid and didn't tell us she didn't get that bill paid," said Rash. He declined to provide her name.
Doll on Wednesday told the Tribune there was a “miscommunication” over when fees were due to MDU. MDU declined to comment, citing company policy on discussing specific cases.
The building's registered owner, 114 On Third LLC, has had previous problems, including owing Burleigh County about $18,366 in 2018 taxes. County records list the property's market value at $1.6 million.
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Rash said he "wasn't aware" of the owed property taxes.
The company also was the subject of two complaints with the Better Business Bureau in May. Both came from residents who said they and others had gone without hot water for weeks.
One complaint is listed as "resolved." The other, from a woman who said she was forced to bathe her 2-month-old baby in the bathroom at her job, is listed as "unresolved."
Rash said residents didn't have hot water because the apartment's boiler system had failed.
"It took some time for that to get repaired. We had to replace water tanks in the basement," he said. "That's all been taken care of."
"It's an over-100-year-old building. There's issues sometimes," Rash said.
Lillis Electric Inc., of Mandan, filed a construction lien in Burleigh County against Sunrise Apartments in October 2018. Lillis said it had a contract with Sunrise Apartments for work the company did there in July and August 2017 and was not paid. The amount in the lien was $5,689.
Rash said the construction lien dates to before he and Doll took ownership, and "it's got nothing to do with us."
Blair Emerson, Jason Heupel and Blake Nicholson contributed to this story.