Renter moved into home not knowing city planned to condemn
DENHAM SPRINGS - A woman entered into a rental agreement but discovered the house was in such rough shape the City of Denham Springs is considering tearing it down.
Courtney Lefler had plans to fix up the house and was looking forward to making an investment. Not knowing all the details up front, Lefler put $400 down and spent about $1,500 on repairs. After some back and forth with the landlord, she says it's not worth the money and plans to move.
"They do need to tear it down," she said.
Lefler says she painted the walls and the wafer wood flooring, but the house needs a whole lot more than paint. The porch is rotting, there are water leaks, drywall was not properly installed, there are holes in the wall that see clear to the outside and part of the roof is failing. Mold crawls on the inside of kitchen cabinets.
Lefler says she planned to live in the house for a couple of months to make sure the neighborhood was okay and enter into a rent-to-own agreement with Charlet Property Group, INC. She signed an "as is" month-to-month contract through Brent Charlet and started moving her things in, January 1.
Everything was fine until she called the City of Denham Springs to move the utilities to her name.
"That's when the lady was telling me, 'you can't do this,'" said Lefler.
She was unable to move the utilities into her name since the city told her the house was uninhabitable and had not been inspected. A yellow laminated notice was posted to the house a few days after Lefler moved in saying the home is "unfit for human habitation" and the city is "considering it for condemnation."
As of Monday, Lefler says she can't turn on the water in the house without it spraying and leaking. She says she drives into Baton Rouge every morning to shower at a friend's house.
"You can turn it on but it's going to leak everywhere," she said.
The City of Denham Springs sent out a notice of substantial damage in September 2016 following the flood. City building official Rick Foster tells 2 On Your Side the home Lefler rented took on three and a half feet of water.
"From what we understand from neighboring property owners, the house was never gutted or the owner could have gutted it and never told us," said Foster.
The owner of the house on Cockerham Road, Charlet Property Group, INC did not pull a permit for the property until January 10, 2018. Since the house was substantially damaged, the City of Denham Springs says it must inspect the property once everything is gutted but says it was never given an opportunity.
"We may have to deconstruct some of the building to get a look at the walls," said Foster.
The affidavit for certification and inspection says the house was gutted by the property owner and contractor Charlet Property Group, INC. The affidavit also says the property owner claims the structure is found to meet all codes.
2 On Your Side asked Brent Charlet if the City of Denham Springs told him he could rent a place like this.
"We're trying to get the inspection done, I wasn't aware that the house hadn't been inspected," Charlet said.
Charlet told 2 On Your Side the house on Cockerham has been "totally remodeled." When asked if he would live in the conditions Lefler is living in he said, "no, but she chose to live there."
Foster says Charlet Property Group broke a whole bunch of rules by doing it this way and the city is waiting to be called for a final inspection. If it's found to be "unlivable," Charlet Property Group, INC will not be able to rent the property until it's in compliance.
Charlet says he plans to "fix it up" and rent to someone else.