Tenants of condemned Modesto apartment building looking for new place to stay

An unwelcome visitor found Najora Watley two days ago.

An unwelcome visitor found Najora Watley two days ago.

"We're talking and there was a big old rat sitting there," said Watley, pointing to her bathroom floor.

That's right, a rat. She took a picture to prove it.

"It wasn't all the way dead. It fell from the hole, you know what I mean and I thought nasty," says Michael Campbell, Najora's husband.

They also have a major leak in the ceiling in their bathroom.

"Every time it rains, it just gets weaker and weaker. I'm pretty sure the rest of that stuff is going to fall," Campbell said.

The Modesto Fire Department did a routine inspection of the 624 9th Street building in March. That's when tenants came forward to complain.

"It's really an unpleasant place to live. I will tell you that the tenants have pointed some things out to our building officials that you would never want to see in an apartment much less live there," Amy Vickery said, spokesperson for the City of Modesto.

Close to 100 people live in the 27 unit building, now condemned.

According to the city, the landlord is not willing or able to fix all the problems that include mold, roaches, bed bugs and six feet of standing water in the basement.

Tanya Lopez has lived at the apartment building four years. She pays $575 a month for a small studio apartment. She also has had problems with a leaky ceiling and rats.

"A family of four came in and killed my hamster," Lopez said.

Instead of fixing all the problems, the owner decided just a few days ago to sell the building and evict tenants, which the city says is within the landlord's legal rights.

"They have either 30 days or 60 days to evacuate the building based on how long they've lived there on the property," Vickery said.

Tenants like Michael Campbell, who was homeless three months ago, will be without a home again.

"Homeless ain't really an option. You know what I mean. So I have to figure out something. I have two kids. I have a wife," Campbell said.

We went to the manager's office in the hopes of reaching the landlord for comment. However, there was no answer.

The city of Modesto will hold a resource fair for tenants Tuesday and Thursday to help connect them to relocation services. The landlord is also required to provide financial assistance in relocating tenants.

On Thursday, the city's board of appeals is expected to take testimony regarding the apartment building. The board could either decide to uphold the current notice or modify or delete it.

The landlord is currently being assessed a $1,000 a day civil penalty for not making repairs up to code dating back to May 28.

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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