The apartment building has no roof, just a tarp for cover.

And the rain, even in early September, leaked down into the glass kitchen light in Blanco Castillo's kitchen on the first floor.

She taped the light switch in the kitchen shut, fearing electrocution.

Across the two-story apartment complex in the North Portland neighborhood of St. Johns, Castillo's neighbor Corey Smith felt the water dripping onto his first-floor bed as he tried to sleep.

"I was laying in bed," says Smith, 44, who pays $800 a month for his two-bedroom apartment. "It was like I started getting peed on."

Castillo and Smith have an extraordinary story, even by the standards of Portland's wave of evictions: Their landlords kicked them out of the building, but didn't wait for them to leave before removing the roofs.

As WW first reported this morning, residents of the 18-unit St. Johns apartment complex received notices of a "no cause" eviction in early June after the building's new owners decided they wanted to renovate the property.

Renters were given 90 days to leave. But owners Janos and Sara Bodnar didn't wait that long to start the work on the two-story building.

Contractors ripped off the roofs, leaving tenants exposed to the rain.

The apartment complex on North Ida Avenue has tarps where the roofs used to be. (Rachel Monahan)
The apartment complex on North Ida Avenue has tarps where the roofs used to be. (Rachel Monahan)

At least half a dozen tenants in the building on North Ida Avenue had to contend with water damage, including light fixtures that filled with water.

Janos Bodnar declined to comment, directing WW to Capital Property Management Services, which manages the property and defended the owners' decisions.

"The long-term goal in purchasing and renovating this apartment building is to elevate the quality of housing being offered," says Joe St. Onge, vice president for Capital Property Management Services. "Due to the scope of the renovations at North Ida it was necessary for the apartments to be vacant while renovations are completed."

Two of the three buildings still have tarps for roofs after the city issued a stop work order and sent out a notice to owner and tenants dated Sept. 9.

There were no permits for roof work as well as the window and siding replacement. The inspectors found evidence of water damage, mold or other problems in at least six apartments. (City officials say they identified problems in an additional apartment on Sept. 28.)

The stop-work order for roofing, which had no permits, comes with a $500 fine, but the city gave the owners until Oct. 9 to correct the most serious housing code violations or face fines that could range as high as $2,700, according to a notice sent to tenants.

St. Onge says contractors, who are licensed, were in charge of getting the permits.

The full extent the financial penalties are unclear.

Mike Liefeld, enforcement program manager at Portland's Bureau of Development Services, says the city must see proof of repairs by the deadline or the city "can assess code enforcement fees."

The landlord gave renters an extra month in the building after the leaks, and have agreed to let them live rent-free from the time of the leak in August through Oct. 15—the date tenants must now vacate the property.

Maureen MacNabb, the management company president, says the city has agreed to waive the fines, given the landlord agreed to extend to tenants' stay in the building.

"We felt that was an undue and harsh punishment," says MacNabb, noting the extension given to renters.

MacNabb provided an email showing the city had agreed to consider the fee waivers, but Liefeld says the city has struck no definite deal.

To date, the owners have not agreed to pay for damages to renters' property.

The living room is bare in the second-floor apartment where LaShai, 41, who asked for anonymity, has lived for four years.

"I had to throw out the couch; I had to throw out the TV; I had to throw out the Xbox, because it just didn't work," says LaShai, who shares the apartment with her two children, ages 11 and 13.

"If I'd thrown out the beds, they would have had to sleep on the floor with the bugs. I had to let that air out and dry out."

But now, she says, the mattresses smell moldy.

North Ida apartments (Rachel Monahan)
North Ida apartments (Rachel Monahan)