Charlotte City leaders discuss slumlord legislation

(Dedrick Russell | WBTV)
Published: Oct. 1, 2018 at 7:26 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Lake Arbor Apartment Complex tenants are hoping Charlotte City leaders can do more to improve their quality of life. They have been complaining for years about what they call unliveable conditions.

"Toilets backed up, different things," tenant Carmen Evans said. "Rats even a snake - heard a baby found a snake in the kitchen."

Evans says she has lived at the apartment complex on Tuckaseegee Road for more than a year. She says she was sold on getting a newly-renovated apartment complex, but instead she says she got a patched-up ceiling, a sinking ceiling, possibly mold in her apartment and water soaking her carpet.

"I pay $765 a month," Evans said. "It's not worth $765."

The frustrated tenant is also concerned about getting her mail. She says the mailboxes at the complex failed inspection, so the post office refuses to deliver mail.

"I've only picked up my mail twice in three months," Evans said, "because we have to go all the way to the old post office to pick up our mail."

Evans has no car. She says it has been a struggle for her to get her mail.

These conditions have gotten the attention of Charlotte city leaders. There are 267 units at Lake Arbor. The city code enforcement has inspected each apartment unit. The city reports that 56 housing units have been brought into compliance - the others are open cases that Code Enforcement is monitoring.

City leaders are concerned slumlords could setup shop in Charlotte and nothing can be done about it.

The city's Intergovernmental Relations committee met Monday. Lake Arbor Apartments was discussed. The committee is discussing slumlord legislation. At-Large Councilmember Braxton Winston says he knows there are other slumlords in Charlotte. He thinks the city needs more power to prevent slumlords from ruining properties.

"Our scope is very limited," Winston said. "And I would like to explore some ways to finding more tools."

Winston says other cities have the power to deem slum properties as a nuisance and can demand the owner to fix the problems or have the property demolished. He wants to explore how can Charlotte get the power. He also wants to see what power tenants can have over their living conditions. He mentioned the idea of tenants withholding their rent until problems are addressed.

“The deck is stacked against residents in our community,” Winston said. “Particularly in low income situations to get any kind of reprieve of living standard.”

Tenants appreciate the city stepping in. They hope change will happen sooner rather than later.

“If somebody could step in and make them sell this property to somebody that really wants it, that’s what they should do,” Evans said.

The city has been in contact with the landlord. He has agreed to present an action plan on October 9.

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