Local News

Residents, Activists Claim Landlord Will Not Listen To Their Complaints

Posted January 25, 2001

— A Chatham County landlord is selling houses to his immigrant tenants without first making repairs. The situation is drawing the ire of some community activists.

Raymundo Sandria has several problems with the house he rents from landlord Eugene Craven. Sandria had to use Play-doh to patch his windows, because he says Craven will not fix them.

Social worker Gloria Sanchez has seen first-hand how some of Craven's other tenants live. She has even filed complaints on their behalf.

"At one point, I had to give a family a cooler so they could put the baby's milk on ice," she says. "You opened the refrigerator and roaches were falling out. She has five kids, and we're talking roaches all over the floor."

City inspectors have cited Craven five times since 1998 for violating housing standards. City manager Joel Brower points out that Craven always makes repairs -- after being ordered to do so.

"He seems willing to make the repairs once he has been informed of a problem," he says.

Inspectors do not visit rental properties unless a tenant files a complaint. Advocates like Sanchez believe there are many more problems than these records indicate. She says cultural differences -- and sometimes fear -- prevent many renters from reporting problems.

"They are afraid if they complain, he'll evict them. There's always someone to replace whoever's moved out," she says.

A realtor who works for Craven is trying to sell some of the rental houses for $40,000 to $60,000. WRAL tried to reach Craven by phone and at his home, but he was not available for comment.

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