COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Families from 13 Columbia apartment units are now being forced to leave their homes after officials deemed them unsafe for residents on Wednesday.
According to the Columbia Police Department, code enforcement told the landlords at Mallard Apartments and Howell court apartment to fix issues after it found detections of gas or either missing, inadequate or non-working heat sources.
The landlord had 48 hours to fix the problems. As of 11 a.m. on Friday the issues were not fully corrected so the tenants will be vacated until at least Monday, according to CPD.
CPD said there was a total of 13 units that needed to vacate. Two in Howell Court Apartments, and 11 in Mallard Apartments.
It was later confirmed that 7 of the 13 had detection of gas. The others are being vacated for either missing, inadequate or non-working heat sources.
“We have been in communication with the owners who advise that they’ve made hotel reservations for all tenants through Monday,” CPD wrote in a statement.
Jessica Stevenson, a Mallard Apartment Resident tells WIS she was unaware of hotel arrangements until after the trespass notice was placed on her door Friday, causing the headache of trying to figure out what’s next for nearly 48 hours.
“It’s very stressful and all I can think of right now is to work way more hours at work,” Stevenson said.
The Stevenson family tells WIS they lived in their apartment for months without heat and just recently put in a working heating system.
“When we got the new heater which was literally like a week ago or two weeks ago it was doing fine, it wasn’t causing any issues, monoxide reader never went on, never smelt any type of gas,” Stevenson said.
Then the gas was turned off Wednesday because officials say the furnace is too large for the apartment, which is deemed unsafe.
“All they have to do is just switch out the heaters,” Stevenson said.
While the Stevenson family has only lived at Mallard apartments for six months, WIS spoke with one resident who says she lived in her Mallard court apartment roughly 20 years ago and hearing about these problems comes to no surprise.
“I’m 30 now, just seeing that this problem is just now surfacing and they are still standing is depressing,” Shannon Green, Former Mallard Apartment resident said. “We should have been out of our apartments too but unfortunately at the time we could not. We had to stay there and make due to what we had. We had rats lizards the heat and air going out each year. We had a lot of different problems.“
Residents WIS spoke with said they’ve experienced things like mold, cracked walls, and ceilings, no heat, and gas leaks.
Although Green does not live in the complex anymore, she tells WIS “I want to see these torn down and rebuilt again.”
According to the Columbia Housing authority, 9 families are living in Mallard Apartments with vouchers.
CHA is not in charge of the upkeep of Mallard apartments, however, the CHA has a Mod Rehab contract with the apartment complex, in which the Columbia Housing Authority pays all or a portion of the rent to the private landlord.
There are a total of 10 units being subsidized from the Mallard Apartment Complex through the Mod Rehab program.