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Court rules in favor of former Washington-Colfax Apartment tenant

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --A man who says he suffered without heat and hot water in his South Bend apartment, gets the outcome he's been fighting for.

Nearly four months ago, ABC57 News took you inside the Washington-Colfax apartments, showing you the living conditions many tenants were forced to endure. 

After court hearings and code enforcement hearings, Steve Beno says, he finally feels free.

ABC57 News met Beno during that tour of the complex.

"The heat went off November 3, 2017, and I stopped documenting it at the end of January," he recalls. "I kept in touch with my old neighbor. In April, she said still no hot water, still no heat."

It's been a long journey for him. 

"From code enforcement, I have 16 pages of violations. From no hot water, to cockroaches and bed bugs, are just saturated in all of the apartments," he says. "They do not do any exterminating. It's a health risk."

But he's finally done.

South Bend Investments, LLC., the alleged owners of the complex, were suing Beno for not paying his rent during the times he didn't have heat or hot water.

Tuesday,  Judge Singleton said, he didn't have to pay the back rent.

"You just can't treat people like this," says Beno.

He brought some of the cockroaches from his old apartment to the courtroom. 

And despite being court ordered to appear, the owner of South Bend Investments, and a lawyer, did not show up.

Instead, the property manager, Virginia Duncan appeared. 

She wasn't allowed to speak in court due to the failure to follow the judge's order. 

"He didn't hear our side, but we'll take care of it," says Duncan.

Duncan tells ABC57 News, she didn't think the decision was fair.

She had some opinions behind the state of the apartment complex. 

"I'm sure there was [cockroaches]. Thanks to the people who don't clean their apartments. And we've closed those buildings," says Duncan. "Everyone knew we had old boilers. And we had to find someone who can take care of them."

ABC57 News is still waiting for Beno's countersuit for damages and emotional distress.

But the story doesn't end there.

At one code enforcement hearing, it was determined that South Bend Investments would have until November to make drastic changes with the buildings.  

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