MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis family is living without power after a fire was intentionally set near her home at the Peppertree Apartments.

Cheryl Lott’s family, including her pregnant daughter, have been without power for 11 days after arson in her building on April 9.

“Smoke started coming through the vents in my apartment, so I got me and my kids and my animals out and MLGW had cut the power to my apartment,” Lott said.

Lott is tired, frustrated, and crying out for help.

“We been running out of money trying to get food every day because we have no power. We can’t get groceries,” Lott said. “I just want the help. It’s not fair to me and my family being without power.”

She said her apartment sustained minimal damage but she’s been getting the run about getting her power restored.

“I done called the leasing office they keep telling me to call Code Enforcement. I’ve called Code Enforcement they’ll tell me I got to pay $55 to get the safety inspection done before MLGW can come out and cut my power back on,” Lott said.

The $55 fee is more than her $50 rent.

We reached out to federal and local agencies to find out why Lott was told she’s responsible for the fee instead of property owners Peppertree LLC. Eventually, we received an email from a city administrator saying, “After further review, This is not a cost that should be covered by the tenant.”

A HUD spokesperson said Peppertree owners told them the people living at the unit went to live with family members and it is not habitable. However, they did confirm the owner is responsible for the fee.

Desperate for solutions, Lott is working with Chase Madkins with the Center for Transforming Communities. Madkins believes Peppertree’s ongoing legal battle is to blame.

“They could easily pay the $55 and it makes sense for them to pay the $55 but I think because of the nature of the situation, them losing the contract. I think it’s something they’re doing out of spite,” Madkins said.

A county spokesperson said Thursday inspectors determined there was no damage that would prevent a safety inspection to allow Memphis, Light, Gas and Water to restore power, but property owners still haven’t stepped up to pay.

“Why should I have to pay it? They should do it, wasn’t my fault. I didn’t set that fire,” Lott said.

During our quest for answers, Councilwoman Patrice Robinson did volunteer to pay the fee. However, the City of Memphis said in a statement that after further review, the cost should not be covered by the tenant.

We did reach out to Peppertree and its parent company Tesco Properties but have yet to hear back.