Mayor seeks criminal charges against couple she calls multi-state slumlords

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They paid their rent so residents at the Crestmont Village apartments should not be living in the dark day after day.

"We're out here making sure all these residents are safe, said Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland.

"They're in pretty dire straights right now."

In an unprecedented move the city is now paying the electric bill at the southeast side complex.

Mayor Annise Parker is treating the situation like a disaster.

The mayor, police chief and the Red Cross were all at the complex Thursday night to give aid to the 100 residents dealing with living conditions the mayor says no Houston residents should have to endure.

"Having raw sewage running through the complex," the mayor said was the last straw.

For months the city says it's been trying to work with the husband and wife who own the ramshackle complex.

"We have finally achieved a criminal violation," Parker said.

The city identifies the complex owners as Abraham and Denise Vaknin who live out of state. The next time they return to Houston the mayor says they will be arrested.

The city says it will offer assistance to relocate the tenants. Some have been living there and putting up with the conditions due to felony criminal convictions.