House conditions put permit-less landlord company back under city scrutiny

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Published: Feb. 20, 2023 at 6:59 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - City of Columbia leadership is looking at another property for code violations - it’s owned by a landlord company the city says lacks documents to rent the property, to begin with.

Columbia Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins told WIS he visited the property at the 44-hundred block of Windemere Avenue on Monday after WIS contacted him about the house’s conditions.

He expressed concern and said he would work to arrange a city code enforcement inspection of the property.

The property is owned by the Brooklyn-based company Indigo 52. The company is already facing city scrutiny for code violations at a nearby Hyatt Avenue property and for failing to have rental permits.

RELATED STORY: Judge orders relocation of group of north Columbia renters by the landlord or the city if necessary

A Richland County judge ordered the company to provide alternative housing for some residents at the Hyatt Avenue property while repairs are made. If the company failed to do so, the city was ordered to arrange it.

Multiple Hyatt Avenue residents confirmed the City of Columbia arranged for the residents to move to a hotel over the weekend where they remain.

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As part of the court case, Columbia reported to the judge the company lacked rental permits and was renting its properties illegally in the city.

A hearing on Indigo 52′s lack of documentation and condition at the Hyatt Avenue property is scheduled for Feb. 27.

The city referenced the Windermere property as one of Indigo 52′s properties in its court filings and the renter of the unit reached out to WIS.

She requested her identity be withheld. She lives there with her three daughters.

“I want them in a better place, a better environment. This is just not good enough for my kids to be living in this place,” she said.

WIS found holes in walls, exposed wires, and what appeared to be mold spread throughout the house.

The renter said her home’s carbon monoxide detector didn’t work and provided WIS with documentation of a gas leak from mid-January. She said the gas had been cut off, ending the functionality of her stove.

She said hot water and heat were also lost.

“It makes me very angry and sad and depressed and worrying and all the above,” she said.

She said she has withheld rent for the month of February, which puts her at risk of eviction. However, the withheld rent does not free Indigo 52 from its responsibility to make repairs.

The renter echoed frustrations voiced by her Hyatt Avenue neighbors about the lack of responsiveness from the company.

“No, I wasn’t surprised. It was the same issues that occurred, that is occurring issuing down here. The same exact issue,” she said.

WIS contacted Mary Twitty, who the city had identified in its court filing as someone who represented herself as the “owner’s representative.”

She said she no longer works for Indigo 52 in the aftermath of the Hyatt Avenue incident. She declined to answer questions but deferred WIS to her attorney and someone named David Cohen.

She declined to explain Cohen’s relationship with Indigo 52.

Hyatt Avenue tenants had also mentioned Cohen’s name to WIS, but his connection to the company remains unclear.

Twitty is scheduled to be in Columbia Municipal Court related to the code violations on March 1.

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