ROCK FALLS – Frank Harts paid $450 in rent to stay in his apartment through the month, as he has done every month for the last year.
But Saturday, the landlord, Davis Baker, informed Harts and other tenants that he was shutting down the apartment complex. A day before, the city of Rock Falls, which runs the electric utility, turned off the power. That also meant no water, because the well is electric.
The complex, next to Long Shot Bar and Grill on U.S. Route 30 west of Rock Falls, consists of 19 efficiency apartments. The closure threw an estimated 40 people out of their homes.
Baker handed out money to some of the tenants, but not everyone, said Dennis Rosenow, who said he has managed the complex since March.
"A lot of the people are on Social Security. They are on fixed incomes," he said. "The whole situation is shameful."
Harts said Baker gave him $120 when he was told he had to leave. But that didn't cover the half of the month left, which would amount to $225 – let alone the costs associated with unexpectedly moving in the middle of the month.
Harts said he is now staying at the Napp Inn in Rock Falls, waiting for his Social Security check to arrive in 9 days.
The Parkside property, an old motel, is owned by Ismet Akiti, according to Whiteside County records. He was overseas this week, his relatives said Thursday, so he couldn't be reached for comment.
Baker had been leasing Parkside from Akiti. But Baker apparently wasn't paying his bills, which was why the complex closed. The first installment of property taxes for Parkside – more than $2,000 – was due Wednesday, but it hasn't been paid, according to Whiteside County.
Rosenow said he still lives at Parkside, receiving power from a generator. His presence, he said, helps ward off copper thieves at night. He said he hoped to remain in the manager's position if a new operator took over.
Until July 1, tenants can access their apartments, but no one was there Thursday morning because of the lack of power and water, Rosenow said.
He said he wished Rock Falls notified tenants of the shutoff.
City Administrator Robbin Blackert said the city's customer is the motel, not the tenants.
"The breach in the lease agreement is between the landlord and the tenant. We don't have customer accounts set up with the individuals," Blackert said. "We did meet with him [landlord]. He said he would notify his tenants."
Harts said Baker didn't fairly compensate tenants.
"He came to us 5 hours before he shut down," he said.