Apartment owners get $1M in tax funding despite repeat violation - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Apartment owners get $1M in tax funding despite repeated code violations

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

A Channel 4 I-Team investigation found the out-of-state landlord of a Nashville apartment complex earned $1,023,126 despite repeated code violations, including a caved-in ceiling and sewage leaks.

Sheree McLaurin showed the Channel 4 I-Team photos of her ceiling caving in and the ripped-up kitchen floor in her apartment at the Riverchase Apartments complex in east Nashville.

"It was horrible. It was horrible," McLaurin said.

Danielle Nix also showed us photos of her old apartment at Riverchase, including how her ceiling was peeling apart and damage in her bathtub.

"It was very deplorable conditions," Nix said.

A Channel 4 I-Team investigation found the Riverchase complex received 18 code violations in the last five years. Among the violations city inspectors cited were sewage leaks, holes in the roof and a caved-in ceiling.

And a city investigation is still ongoing into a suspected electrical fire in December 2013, which started where a wire was running through the floor joist, according to an investigator's report.

Despite those violations, in the last two years, the owners still received more than a million dollars in taxpayer money.

McLaurin was stunned to find out how much the owners of the complex had received.

"They [management] always told me that they were going to send someone to come fix it [ceiling collapse]. And they never did," McLaurin said.

Nix, too, was surprised by our findings, given the condition of her former apartment.

"The ceiling was leaking, peeling and falling in my food," Nix said.

The complex is located in Metro Councilman Scott Davis' district.

"I am dealing with an out-of-state landlord that does not care," Davis said.

The Channel 4 I-Team told the councilman how much the complex had received in federal subsidies.

"I'm shocked, and I'm concerned, because they're not putting any of that money into the building," Davis said.

The owner of the property is L/G Redevelopment, LLC, out of Seattle, WA. We asked for an interview with the manager on site in Nashville and with the company, but the manager referred us to the property management spokeswoman, Kerri Fulks.

In an emailed statement, Fulks wrote: "Although any citation is unacceptable, we do not consider having 18 over a five year period on a 212 unit, low-income project excessive. The ownership team is working towards a resolution that should result in long-term improvements and leave the property in better standing."

We asked about that million-dollar payout and the condition of some of the apartments.

"These federal funds are used to pay for qualifying residents rents. This funding is not allocated for renovations or improvements to the property," Fulks wrote.

The Channel 4 I-Team also wanted to ask the Metro Housing and Development Agency, which provides federal dollars to housing for low-income individuals, how so much money can go to a place with these kinds of violations.

MDHA Executive Director James Harbison denied our repeated requests for an interview but responded to our question with this statement: "Riverchase Apartments is in compliance with [U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development] requirements for the Housing Choice Voucher Program."

As for McLaurin and Nix, they ultimately moved out.

"I told them, 'Look, I have six children. I can't live like this,'" McLauren said.

Fulks also said all of the prior violations have been fixed, and renovations as a result of the electrical fire should be completed this week.

Harbison would not give us specifics, citing the federal privacy act, but said less than half of Riverchase's apartments get federal subsidies and only four of the code violations were in apartments where people lived who qualified for subsidies.

The Channel 4 I-Team requested a list of all the properties that MDHA funnels federal money to, in order to see if they had any serious code violations as well, but MDHA denied our request.

Copyright 2014 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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