Tenants seeking answers after building condemnation

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – People living in a Champaign apartment complex are trying to find a new place to live after they were told their building was unlivable.

Some people living in the Colonial Plaza off South Mattis Avenue complained to the city about the shape of the building; even the Champaign Fire Department filed a complaint when responding to a call there. Neighborhood Services inspected the building and determined that the stairs, walkways and ramps were unsafe. They gave tenants 72 hours to vacate their apartments.

Some ask for an explanation. One of them, who wished to remain anonymous, says she has lived there for three years. While she had an updated unit, she didn’t realize how bad her neighbors’ living conditions were until she was evicted from her apartment.

“I think stairs and ramps would be the main issue,” she said.

The landlord had no other accommodations available, which forced her to move in with her family until one was available.

“When we tried to get other units and they just weren’t habitable,” she said. “They weren’t ready, the leaky ceilings, the cockroaches.”

Tim Spear, code compliance manager at Neighborhood Services, said he contacted the owner about the conditions after an inspection.

“They sent us different things throughout this process, but never a final plan and moving forward with the permit,” Spear said.

He said the owner applied for a permit to fix the issues, but only after the conviction.

“Once they have made the repairs and it has passed its inspection by Building Safety, we will lift the condemnation at this point,” Spear said.

In the meantime, many tenants still have their belongings inside the condemned units. They are waiting for the owner to fix everything.

“I hope the landlords take more responsibility,” the anonymous tenant said. “To be more transparent and responsible when it comes to communicating with tenants.”

The issues that need to be resolved include only what the city has planned so far. This does not include grievances mentioned by tenants, such as mold or leaky ceilings.

The anonymous tenant said she would not be moving into her old accommodation and would look for other accommodation options once she was able to collect her belongings.

Spear said if tenants move back in and still have issues with their units, they’ll have to file a complaint with the city. If a complaint is filed, Neighborhood Services can inspect this unit and see if it is habitable.

The owner did not respond to our request for comment. Spear also said that if anyone is having trouble finding housing because of this, they can contact Neighborhood Services, which has community partners who can help.


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