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Bull City Cracking Down on Slumlords

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DURHAM — Criminals have preyed on Durham's Hispanic population. Now, the city says some landlords are also taking advantage of immigrants living in the Bull City. It appears some Mexican laborers may have been misled and a landlord will probably be fined.

Anyone who might enter 507 North Elm Street would probably want to turn right around and leave. Considering the run down condition of the place, it's hard to believe that five Mexican immigrants call the place home and pay $500 per month for the privilege.

None of the tenants speaks English. Clifton Jones, a retired man who tries to help Durham's Latino community, says that's just the start of the problem.

"I have a feeling that, since they're Hispanic and have a language barrier, they can (be told) anything and they don't know what they're being told," said Jones.

The city condemned the house last April and the landlord was given until July 20 to either clean it up or tear it down. He was forbidden from renting the place out in the meantime, but he did it just the same.

The tenants produced a receipt for a $400 security deposit and $500 in rent. City inspectors produced a long list of problems with the house. They say the landlord, Bobby Leathers, is in violation of Durham' minimum housing code and could be fined the equivalent of that one month's rent.

"We see these situations do happen often throughout the city, where people are being taken advantage of," said housing code administrator Jimmy Streeter. "That does bother us quite a bit and it gives us a lot of work to do."

Landlord Bobby Leathers did not return calls fromMark Roberts. His wife says she knows nothing about the situation.

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Mark Roberts, Reporter
Edward Wilson, Photographer
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