3 On Your Side Investigates: Do you know your renters' rights? - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

3 On Your Side Investigates: Do you know your renters' rights?

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

On January 2011, 3 On Your Side showed you the deplorable living conditions at Nova Park Apartments on Raymond Road in Jackson.

We showed you young children living near abandoned apartments with trash and dead rodents on the floor, an apartment with water and heat that wouldn't stop running, and broken doors and shattered windows throughout the complex.

The improvements are now evident.

A fresh coat of paint is being applied to the exterior of the one-building complex.

A hand-written sign indicates that a manager's office is now on premises.

Vincent Ward has been living at Nova Park Apartments for eight months.

"They done put in new doors, in some of them put in new carpet, new stove and refrigerators. I've seen a lot of improvements," Ward said. "They still need some."

The City of Jackson seems satisfied with the improvements.

Nova Park owner Earnest Bouldin of Los Angeles was scheduled to face the music in environmental court on February 14, 2012 for failure to correct a slew of violations, including no outside lighting, no working fire alarms or smoke detectors, missing light fixtures, and mold.

But the court date was cancelled at the last minute.

"The cited violations were corrected," stated Quita Bride, City of Jackson spokesperson, in an emailed statement to 3 On Your Side.

But were all violations corrected?

Our investigation in February 2012 uncovered an arsenal of lingering problems.

While some outdoor posts and railings have been fixed, we still found numerous heavily splintered second-floor posts, and railings that remained loose.

It also wasn't hard to find at least one abandoned apartment, wide open, full of trash, with exposed wiring inside.

The windows of the apartment gaped open, making it easy for a child to climb through and get hurt.

Despite our new discoveries, Jackson's Community Improvement Division believes things are on the right track at Nova Park, and it's not time to take action again.

"There are still some property maintenance issues that need to be addressed at Nova Park Apartments," Bride stated. "At this time, the property owner has taken back the responsibility of making these corrections. Our Community Improvement Division will continue to monitor the progress. If there is a need for us to once again become involved to ensure that the health, welfare, and safety of the residents of Nova Park Apartments is sufficient, we will not hesitate to do so."

Jackson Attorney Damon Stevenson, who deals with landlord - tenant issues, says tenants do not have to live in sub-standard conditions.

"Most of the time, tenants do not know their rights," Stevenson said. "Most of the time, (repairs are) the duty of the landlord. However, tenants also have an obligation to timely notify the landlord of any issues that need to be addressed. They have to do so in writing, and must give the landlord 30 days to address it."

If that time passes, tenants can fix the problem themselves and withhold the cost from their rent payment.

"However, whatever they fix, it had to have been done at market rate. They had to have given the 30 days notice," Stevenson said. "Additionally, they cannot spend more on the issue then they would on rent."

Stevenson says, if a tenant withholds rent because repairs aren't made, a judge will side with the landlord.

So pay your rent full and on time, and follow the steps laid out in this report, to make sure you don't end up living in a dump. 

Copyright 2012 WLBT. All rights reserved.

Also on WLBT.com:

Nova Park Apartments update

3 On Your Side: City issues citations against apartment owners

Tenants at Nova Park Apartments plead for needed repairs

Weekend violence exposes toddlers, infants in unfit living conditions

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