Code violations reports for Charlotte apartment complex accused - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Code violations reports for Charlotte apartment complex accused of having sub-standard conditions

Posted: Updated:
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Complaints of malfunctioning air conditioning units, hot apartments, broken refrigerators, missing smoke detectors, and broken windows sent inspectors from Charlotte's Code Enforcement to Mountcrest Apartments.

"Any unit that would be categorized as minimum housing code violations are - would mean - that unit is sub standard" said Ben Krise, Code Enforcement Manager.

Earlier this month, inspectors began checking out seven vacant units.

WBTV obtained copies of those violations reports.

One apartment had a clogged tub drain; improper finish on a bedroom door; inoperable bedroom window, vinyl in front doorway coming up; front door not reasonably weather tight; cockroaches in a bathroom, missing carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, loose handrails at the stairs; moisture stains above the fridge; floor covering in the kitchen was torn in the middle of the floor, unsafe wiring, and a hole in the wall where ac unit is.

The next one had an ungrounded 3-prong that was unsafe in a bedroom, that bedroom window was screwed shut; there was peeling paint at the back of the property, and a handrail that was loose at the stairs.

The third had a loose electrical receptacle in a bedroom, loose handrail, ungrounded 3-prong electrical that was unsafe in the kitchen, and the floor in front of the kitchen sink was soft.

In the fourth vacant apartment, there was an inoperable window in the bedroom; ungrounded 3-prong electrical that was unsafe in a bedroom, and loose handrail on the steps.

Another apartment had cracked tiles on the bathroom floor, peeling paint at the back of the property, loose handrail, and an inoperable electrical receptacle in the living room.

There's a unit that had an ungrounded 3-prong electrical in a bedroom, peeling paint at the back, loose handrail, living room windows not locking or working.

The last vacant apartment had a leaking toilet, peeling paint, front door not weather tight, and a loose handrail.

Charlotte Code Enforcement says property managers are working to fix the problems.

"I would categorize it as being highly successful" Krise said. "They've been very responsive and moving towards remedying all violations."

Inspectors said, starting next week, they will look at each occupied unit. "We're going to continue on with the due process. We're going to systematically go through that apartment complex. We're going to inspect them building by building."

Krise said in about a month there will be a hearing.

"That's an opportunity for property management and maintenance crew to sit down with us, discuss their plan of action, brought evidence of any repairs that have been made, and we'll take the appropriate action at that point in time."

Code Enforcement workers said they're also trying to connect residents of Mountcrest with other city resources - "specifically Community Relations Committee met with residents to talk about issues they may have." Krise said that meeting happened before inspections began.

"I wouldn't mostly describe it as a home because it feels like just a room. It's really hot" said one resident didn't want to give his name.

The thermometer in that resident's 2-story townhouse was almost at 90 degrees. The air conditioning malfunctions "whenever we turn it on - it freezes itself." The resident said the unit "becomes all ice."

Many people claim the management office is refusing to do the repairs.

Officials said city workers attempted tenant landlord mediation but the city still received a petition.

After city staff inspected the seven vacant apartments, they did "an informational session" with the management office.

Krise told WBTV that two vacant units have already been brought into compliance, and the other five "are very close."

In addition to contacting Code Enforcement, some of the people at Mountcrest also reached out to ActionNC for help when their water bills started to skyrocket.

"Some people's water meters are broken" said Hector Vaca of ActionNC. "They get an administrative fee for only $4.24 at which point the office in some cases has changed that to a different amount - saying people actually owe a different amount than what they actually got metered for."

Vaca said "not many people are being billed for actual usage" and "many people are talking about their water bills being high - approaching $200."

According to Vaca, "not all of these apartments have a lot of people and these are people in the past who had smaller bills and all of a sudden they jumped without their habits changing."

Vaca said "if people's habits haven't changed, how did the water bills suddenly skyrocket?"

ActionNC said disputed water bills are leading to evictions "when people do not pay their water bills on time and the rent is not paid, they're incurring late penalties or being evicted for nonpayment of rent because of the water bill."

But Nelly Lomeli said that's not the case.

Lomeli, the manager of the apartment complex, said they don't evict residents without cause.

"Anybody that doesn't go by the rules of the lease, payments not being made on time, unauthorized occupants or things, criminal backgrounds and stuff like that" are the reasons for evictions.

Lomeli said maintenance workers have been trying to do repairs but "several residents refused to open the door and allow maintenance to come in and do it because they're being told by Mr. Vaca not to allow them to come in to the apartment."

Vaca told WBTV those allegations are false.

Lomeli said that "all concerns that have been brought to the office have been taken care of" and "we really are trying to work with every single one of our residents. I would not lease an apartment that was not habitable that I wouldn't live in."

The Management Office said they're not overcharging on water bills.

"We ask residents to go ahead and pay what the bill states."

Some of the residents of Mountcrest Apartments had eviction hearings Monday morning.

One man who was at court has lived at Mount Crest with his family for 18 months. Now, he says they don't know where they're going to go. They have until the 15th of July to move out.

The others who were in court today are being allowed to stay at the apartments as long as they pay rent and late fees.

Copyright 2014 WBTV. All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow