More Twists And Turns In Tenant/Landlord Dispute - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

More Twists And Turns In Tenant/Landlord Dispute

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SAVANNAH, GA -

UPDATE:

A story we've been following all week took more twists and turns today.  A home on Savannah's west side about to be condemned, the family renting it being evicted. Now tenant and landlord are accusing the other of lying -- and that's not all.

The house and what's supposed to be inside may lead two families to court.  News 3 viewer Ashley Altman spoke to us about the home earlier this week.  She claimed her family had lived four months with broken plumbing and missing appliances - no stove or A-C.  The landlord claimed the home had those things. They said the plumbing problems were the Altman’s fault and promised to produce receipts to prove it.  Today plumber Jimmy Tarpley spoke to us instead, “The first time that I came over here - the main sewer line was stopped up and I ran the snake in the main line.  I remember I got two wash rags out of the line that somebody evidently had let go down in the commode and some plastic bags.”  The Altman’s agree and say that was caused by someone squatting in the home before they moved in.  It's what happened after that’s in dispute.

  The Altman’s say the plumbing never worked properly - no cut-off valves, a non-working sink and a leaking toilet...problems the landlords - Randall and Casey Knowles refused to address.  Tarpley shares a different story.  He tells me when he was called a second time, there was something else causing the problem, “A toy, a little small child's toy that had lodged itself in the commode and so we were able to get that out and they went to working again.”

 As for the appliances - the Knowles want the Altman family charged with theft.  They produced a receipt showing they'd bought a new a-c unit back in April.  They say that was placed in a back window and there was an older unit in the front.  Their real estate agent confirmed by phone she remembered there being a stove and two a-c units - however, none of the online pictures from the real estate ad showed those items in place.  Ashley Altman provided screen shots of a facebook conversation she had with someone on July 5th - five days after moving in - about purchasing a window unit that she says she took with her when the family moved out Thursday night. 

 And that brings us to the final claim.  The family was told they had to leave when city inspectors deemed the house unsafe on Thursday.  The Altman’s sent us video taken as they packed up last night - making a point of showing there was no damage.  But the Knowles say when they showed up Friday morning, they found the house vandalized and flooded.  Tarpley says, “It appears somebody cut a water line in the wall - somebody had cut a little hole out of the wall and there was - they took a saw and they cut the water line and that's why the house is flooded.”  It may take law enforcement to untangle this mess. 

The Knowles had Metro Police write a report today - they say they want the Altman’s charged with vandalism and theft.  The Altman family tells us they've presented their evidence to police and have contacted an attorney.  Meanwhile they’re looking for a new place to live.

 

 

EARLIER:

Now a follow up to a "Voice of the Viewer" report we brought you earlier this week.  The Altman family contacted us about conditions in the home they were renting on Savannah's west side.  On Thursday, city inspectors got involved.

Fix the problems or have your property condemned.  That's the message City of Savannah Code Inspectors have for the landlord of one west Savannah home.  We first told you about the Altman family earlier this week.   They've been renting a home on Savannah's west side - with broken plumbing and missing appliances - for four months....and paying a thousand dollars a month to do so.  They say the landlord refused to fix the problems - and they turned to News 3 for help.

We went to the city looking for answers.  Cornelia Reed with City Code Enforcement explained the process renters can follow.  First she says they must contact the landlord, "If it's a life safety violation - usually that needs to be corrected within 24 to 48 hours.  The life safety violations would include anything such as electrical, mechanical, plumbing."  If the landlord is unresponsive - as the Altman's say theirs was - Reed says the next step is to call 3-1-1,  a city code inspector will come out to evaluate the property. 

That's the step the Altman's took Thursday morning.  By the afternoon - inspectors were on-scene taking notes.  They determined the house plumbing problems and lack of heat - mean the Altman's need to get out as soon as possible.  Reed had warned that's a possibility, "We cannot allow individuals to reside in a property where it could be a safety concern - especially with children." 

Inspectors then went to the landlords business - to notify him of the 24 hours he has to fix those two problems or have his property condemned.  He could not be located - but inspectors say the clock is still running.  The landlords -- Randall and Casey Knowles -- had the Altman's served with eviction papers Thursday morning.   The paperwork to do so was filed after News 3 began looking into the story. The Knowles told News 3 the Altman's were behind in rent and that the plumbing problems were caused by the family themselves -- and that there are receipts to prove it.  Despite promises to produce those receipts several times over the last few days -- the Knowles have not provided them.  The Altman's did produce receipts for rent paid this month showing no balance owed.

 

ORIGINAL STORY:

A family of six -- living in a home they feel is barely habitable- and paying a thousand dollars a month to do so. They say the landlord refuses to fix anything. Ashley Altman says she contacted News 3 out of frustration. She says her family has been living in these conditions for four months...and don't know what else to do. She says they've complained to the landlord about plumbing problems like a leaking toilet and non-working sink...but nothing's been fixed. And she says broken plumbing isn't the only problem. No stove or working refrigerator means her family has to cook meals in just a microwave and toaster oven. Those appliances are promised in the lease the family signed for the home.

News 3 contacted the landlord - Randall Knowles. He didn't want to appear on camera - but tells News 3 he did provide a stove and doesn't know why it's not in the house. He says he's had no complaints about the refrigerator and that he's had a plumber out to the house three times. He claims the Altman's owe him back rent. The Altman family provided receipts to News 3 for weekly rent payments written as recently as last Friday showing no payment due.

Knowles says he simply neglected to write in that portion of the receipt. He has also promised to provide News 3 with receipts for the plumbers visit, that he says show the plumbing issue arose when objects were flushed down the toilet that shouldn't have been. In one instance he says that was a child's toy, in another, he believes it was a hairbrush. The Altman's deny that claim.

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