LR Code Enforcement Alerts Renters of Rights

LR Code Enforcement Alerts Renters of Rights

After speaking with tenants about problems at a local apartment complex, Little Rock Code Enforcement gives us the rundown on your rights if you rent.

"This hasn't been cleaned since I moved in," she said, pulling aside the grate in front of her fireplace.

Rosemary Uwobar has a list of problems inside her Towne Oaks apartment. None of which, she said, has been addressed.

"No luck, not even when I went over to pay my rent," she said.

She spoke with us last week about the mold that continues to spread on her ceiling and shower.

"It stresses you out because you don't know what's going on," she said of the lack of communication from her management company, RPM Management.

Our coverage with Uwobar last week was how Little Rock Code Enforcement became aware of the issue.

"You deserve a safe, decent place to live," said Director of Neighborhood and Housing Programs Andre Bernard.

That's every tenant's first right as a renter, he said.

"If there are code violations where you're living, by all means give us a call," he said.

Some tenants we've spoken with at Towne Oaks haven't reported the problems to Bernard's office, saying they're afraid their home will be condemned or they'll be kicked out.

"I imagine they're [RPM management] going to evict me fast, quicker than a hurry, because I spoke out about this to you all," Uwobar said. "But I think, what can they do? Take me to court? At least then, I could tell and show the judge what my living conditions are like. Maybe then this could get fixed."

According to Bernard, landlords can't punish you for a report to Code Enforcement with eviction.

"Landlords have an individual responsibility to maintain safe and livable residences," Bernard said. "But likewise, renters have a responsibility to pay their rent, even if there are code violations.

Rosemary Uwobar actually continues to pay her rent, despite the lack of response from management.

"I'm just that type of person, it's only fair. I'm staying here," she said. "I pay my rent, but they don't deserve my rent. My grandchildren and I continue to be sick, so no they don't deserve my rent. "

Bernard believes that's the right tactic to take. Some renters, he said, may feel withholding money is their only leverage, but it might land them in the streets.

"Not paying your rent gives that landlord an opportunity to proceed with eviction if they so choose," he said.

For Uwobar said she doesn't want to go, although she's currently packing in case she's forced to leave. She said she simply wants more from where she stays.

"I just want a safe home to live in and to raise my grand hcildren," she said.

According to Bernard, Code Enforcement is working to schedule a complex-wide inspection of Towne Oaks following our coverage. So far, RPM Management has not returned their calls to schedule that inspection, nor have they returned our phone inquiries about the conditions at the complex.

Bernard said if Code Enforcement does condemn a complex, officers at neighborhood alert centers will coordinate with residents to get them in contact with other complexes to find a place to stay.

He encourages everyone to report any possible code violations from electricity and plumbing to mold and mildew.

You can report code violations by calling 311, visiting or calling your local alert center, or calling Code Enforcement directly at 371-4849.
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