07/30/04 — Complaints about more substandard housing surface

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Complaints about more substandard housing surface

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on July 30, 2004 2:01 PM

Though some of the substandard housing problems in Goldsboro have been fixed since citizens complained in April, others have surfaced.

Rotting floors and problems with sewage back-up seem to be the major complaints, causing several properties to be placed in the first phase of non-compliance for the city's minimum housing code.

Two of the April complaints were about rotting floors in trailers owned by Frances Mozingo. Chief Building Inspector Ed Cianfarra said that one of the mobile homes had been repaired, but repairs on the other were delayed.

Cianfarra said that the tenant is alleging injury from a fall through the rotting floors and is considering legal action.

"So until that's resolved, it can't be fixed because it's considered evidence," he explained.

A rental property managed by Alpine Properties was cited last month for not repairing a problem that caused raw sewage to accumulate under the house.

That problem has been fixed, but Alpine Properties has an additional complaint about a sewage problem in another of its rental properties.

A tenant filed the complaint with the city, saying that Alpine wouldn't repair the faulty outlets and leaks in her home.

The complaint stated that sewage had backed up in the bathtub and toilet for two weeks, overflowing on the floors.

Cianfarra said that the tenant has moved out of the house and that Alpine won't rent the property again until the problem is fixed.

A property on Olivia Lane, managed by Clearview Realty, has been cited by the Inspection Department for substandard conditions.

Cianfarra said rotten floors have caused the water heater and the stove to begin falling through the floor. The city contacted Clearview Realty, requesting that a representative come in and talk with Cianfarra about fixing the floors.

"We heard nothing from them," Cianfarra said. "That's our first phase, and we give them 15 days to contact us about the problem."

If that doesn't work, it's on to Phase II, where the city sends another letter reminding the owner of the problem and requesting a meeting.

In Phase II, property owners have 90 days to respond to the city about the deficiencies. If nothing is resolved in those 90 days, the property then moves into Phase III, the last stage before condemnation.

Phase III gives the owner an additional 45 days to respond.

At any point in the three phases, the property owner can come in and get a permit to repair the deficiencies. If that is done, the city stops the clock, which gives the property owner even more time to repair the building.

"When Phase III is up, we do a title search and place an ad in the newspaper saying it's going before the City Council for condemnation," Cianfarra says. "The whole process takes at least 8 to 10 months."

Since January, 14 dilapidated dwellings have been condemned by the City Council and are on their way to being demolished.

That leaves 27 structures in the third phase, waiting in line to be tagged for condemnation.

In the meantime, the clock has just begun ticking for the latest round of substandard dwellings in the city. So the tenants living in the substandard living conditions may have to live in these houses for some time before they are fixed, or determined to be uninhabitable.

"Depending on the severity of the complaints, unless the landlords respond quickly, the tenant may have to live in that condition," said Cianfarra. "A lot of them don't have the ability to move."