An apartment building in Lafayette, Georgia, has been torn down after repeated building violations led Walker County authorities to issue a condemnation notice for the complex in late August.
According to city officials, complaints from residents of the complex and others around town led them to further investigate problems at the Langley Apartment complex near South Main Street and South Duke Street. During that investigation, they found rodents, electrical issues, piles of trash, exposed wiring, various types of mold and tenants dealing with everything from holes in the walls of their units to leaking roofs that were so bad in some cases that furniture was regularly destroyed by rain.
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Windows on the outsides of some apartments were broken and appeared to have been patched with old pallet wood. In some cases, the holes were covered by simple plastic sheets stapled in place. Other units had floors with holes in them that residents said allowed rats to come in and out freely, no matter what they did to stop them from invading their homes.
A condemnation notice was issued Aug. 23 shortly after the investigation concluded, notifying residents they needed to be moved out of the complex by no later than Sept. 30. It declared all structures on the property "unfit for human occupancy" and called it an "imminent danger to life and health."
"That place has been in disrepair for a long time," Walker County resident Myra Allen, who drives past the complex nearly every day on her way home from work, said last week. "I feel bad for the people who lived there because they were there for so long and the renting situation around here is hard right now. It's expensive and there aren't a lot of options if you suddenly have to move."
Brenda Kilgore, a four-year resident of the property, said she repeatedly asked for repairs to be made to her unit but never heard from anyone about any of her complaints. In her view, no one helped because "we were still paying rent."
"I kept telling them and telling them and telling them, but no one did anything," she said. "They didn't care."
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Kilgore said she felt she and other tenants had been treated unfairly and deserved some sort of monetary compensation for being forced to live in those conditions for as long as they did. She also said she wished she had received a little more notice from the county after the decision to condemn the complex was made.
"It wasn't right," she said before the demolition. "A bunch of us who lived here are on disability. We can't just move in a month like that. We're on fixed income."
According to the condemnation notice issued in August, property owner Elizabeth McKoy Patton was first notified that the area needed to be repaired and cleaned on Jan. 19, 2017, and failed to make necessary repairs, which allowed the problems to worsen.
"The notice stated if you failed to take action then the city would declare the property a nuisance, condemn and ask the court for a demolition order," Patton said. "No improvements to the property have been made since that time so the property and the structures have actually deteriorated even more."
Patton, however, said she has been in the process of selling to a man named Rex Ellison for years. During that time, she said, he was the person in charge of maintaining the complex. City officials said they couldn't confirm how the property was run or who dealt with tenants but did confirm Ellison was the person who intended to buy it.
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The Times Free Press reached out to Ellison for a comment but his voicemail was full and he could not be reached.
Contact Kelcey Caulder at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6327. Follow her on Twitter @kelceycaulder.