Neighborhood Code Compliance received a tenant inspection request on Tuesday, July 1, 2014 at approximately 11:30 am. The tenant explained the sewer had backed up into the apartments and management was not responding in an acceptable way to remediate the situation.
Property Maintenance Inspector Michael Lambert conducted an inspection that afternoon and discovered the sewer had backed up with approximately 3 inches of contaminated water in the entire below grade level of the apartment building. There are 4 dwelling units, laundry room and storage areas on that level of the building. Lambert observed the tenant’s apartment was soiled with raw sewage and was still very wet. Many of their possessions were damaged as well. With permission of a neighbor he inspected another apartment and found it in similar condition. On entry to a third apartment he found building maintenance scrubbing floors and noted that new carpeting had apparently been installed. There was still excessive moisture, visible staining on walls and doors, and sewage in HVAC ducts. A fourth unit was entered upon and found to have been cleaned and new carpet installed, but smelled of sewage and was found with excessive moisture, staining, and remains of sewage in the HVAC ducts. Common areas were also wet with contaminated water.
As the dwelling units were unfit for occupancy, Lambert proceeded to have all four units condemned to occupancy due to the potential health threat. The units will remain condemned to occupancy until management provides sufficient evidence they have been properly sanitized, dried out and ready to reoccupy.
The tenants contacted WCIA regarding this issue and the news media ran a story. Code Compliance Manager David Oliver conducted the interview. In addition, the tenants appeared before Champaign City Council to voice their frustration with apartment management. Oliver attended the meeting and provided Council with an update on Code Compliance actions taken. Successful referrals were made to the Champaign-Urbana Tenant Union.
Neighborhood Programs Manager Kerri Spear provided tenant assistance for relocation efforts. Contact was made with three out of the four tenants to provide assistance. Two of the units occupied by families were housed through the Emergency Family Shelter program (United Way) while the third known occupant (single man) received referral resources but has not returned calls for possible placement. The fourth tenant could not be contacted.
Code Compliance will remain in contact with the Mattis North management through completion of the remediation. Oliver confirmed with Schoonover the 8” sewer line had some tree roots that was catching grease, paper towels, feminine hygiene products that caused the blockage. Schoonover returned to the complex and flushed the line a second time to ensure it was clear.
A tenant also complained of the sewer backing up in another building but the waste was contained in the fixtures and did not flood the apartment. Code Compliance also responded to this complaint and conducted an investigation. Condemnation was not necessary in this case.
Four dwelling units condemned due to unsanitary conditions following sewage backup