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Living in Brentwood’s Dahlgreen Courts apartments, tenants say, means living with peeling wallpaper, gaping holes in the walls, leaky plumbing, and treacherous flooring.
After residents formed a tenants’ association last summer, it documented the poor conditions and discovered that the city didn’t have a certificate of occupancy for the buildings. Michael Huke, president of building manager CIH Properties, says the city lost its copy of the 70-plus-year-old document. Tenants believe that certificate was voided when ownership was transferred some 15 years ago.
“The thing is, we just want to live in habitable conditions,” says Vaughn Bennett, the association’s president. To that end, the group arranged visits from mayoral staff and incoming Councilmember Harry “Tommy” Thomas Jr. and filed a legal complaint.
City inspectors have assessed nearly $70,000 in fines since October, but that amount hasn’t been collected. A Dec. 12 letter from the city to the building’s owner, Willis Limited Partnership, explains that the city is giving more time for repairs before the “possible imposition of fines.”
Thomas says he intends to force the landlords to devise a 100-day plan for fixing their buildings. Huke says most of those repairs have been made, but he doesn’t think the city or the tenants played fair. He says vandals ripped up the halls just before inspectors showed up without warning. “There were armies of inspectors,” he says. “We had inspectors coming back daily. We had inspectors inspecting the same things and reissuing violations.”
One thing has definitely been fixed: the missing certificate of occupancy. On Nov. 21, building management applied for a new certificate. On Dec. 8, a new one was issued, along with a $2,000 fine.