Boarding house violations plague West Louisville neighborhoods - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Boarding house violations plague West Louisville neighborhoods

The boarding house at 613 Cecil Avenue (Source: WAVE 3 News) The boarding house at 613 Cecil Avenue (Source: WAVE 3 News)
The boarding house at 4107 W. Broadway (Source: WAVE 3 News) The boarding house at 4107 W. Broadway (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Carolyn Anthony (left) and Vanessa Lackey (Source: WAVE 3 News) Carolyn Anthony (left) and Vanessa Lackey (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Cheri Bryant Hamilton (Source: WAVE 3 News) Cheri Bryant Hamilton (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Jim Mims (Source: WAVE 3 News) Jim Mims (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Metro Council members said they will pursue new zoning rules that require boarding house operators to get a license as neighbors complain the group homes continue to plague West Louisville. 

A WAVE 3 News investigation revealed that several West End boarding house owners this summer have received citations or orders to fix multiple safety and building code violations. 

Boarding houses don’t need a license and, in many cases, a permit to operate. It’s what the director of Metro Codes and Regulations called “a very unregulated environment” and has prompted neighbors to demand action from city officials.

“We’re just letting this influx of all these different, negative attitudes come into our neighborhoods, and we’re sitting by and letting it happen,” said Carolyn Anthony, who lives in the Chickasaw neighborhood.

Neighbors pointed to a home at 613 Cecil Avenue as a major concern. The home’s owner, Bryant Jacobs, moved his tenants out of the home after inspectors found 28 violations at the property, according to city records.

[WEB EXTRA: Inspection Report for 613 Cecil Avenue]

The inspection report indicates the home didn’t have electricity, a bathroom door or a properly installed water heater, but did have trash in the yard and exposed wiring in the house.

“The house is under repair,” Jacobs said, when reached by phone. “We’re trying to conform to the city codes.”

Jacobs declined to comment on why he agreed to refund his tenants’ money after the multiple code violations.

Cheri Bryant Hamilton, a Democrat who represents Shawnee and Chickasaw on Metro Council, had been pursuing a one-year moratorium on new boarding houses so the city could study how to better regulate them.

Other council members said after debating the issue that they would instead pursue new zoning laws that require boarding house operators to maintain a license.

“It’s false hope,” Madonna Flood, the Democrat who chairs the Planning and Zoning committee, said of the proposed moratorium. “It’s not going to stop anything.”

Flood said she shared Hamilton’s concern about the boarding houses, which don’t even need a permit to operate on many main streets in West Louisville. The boarding house owners should be more transparent and should pay a fee to operate, she said.

Hamilton said many of the homes violate the eight-person maximum for boarding houses, a situation that creates an overcrowding issue and can lead to health and crime problems.

“They’re putting as many people in as they can squeeze into a place,” Hamilton said. “A lot of times, they’re not coming through the front door, they’re coming through the back.”

Jim Mims, director of Metro Codes and Regulations, said neighbors had a legitimate concern because of the largely unregulated nature of boarding houses.

“Better enforcement is certainly something that goes part-in-parcel with this,” Mims said. “Clearly, we’re doing enforcement now. Is it enough? It can always be better.”

Inspectors respond to complaints, the most common of which are problems with overcrowding and junk in yards, Mims said.

He agreed that a moratorium on new boarding houses wouldn’t be the best option for the city.

Inspectors visited a boarding house at 4107 W. Broadway on Wednesday, after WAVE 3 News noticed at least a dozen people going in and out of the property on a recent afternoon. Inspectors noted 14 violations, including mopeds sitting on the porch, junk in the yard, and too many people living inside the home.

[WEB EXTRA: Inspection Report for 4107 W. Broadway

City property records indicate the home’s owner is Harbour Portfolio VII, LP, of Dallas. A call to a number listed for the company went unreturned Wednesday.

Phil, a man who initially said he owned the building, later told WAVE 3 News that he simply managed the property for Harbour before ending the interview and driving away in his truck.

“They just purchase the homes, throw a little Pine Sol on them, and open the doors up,” said Vanessa Lackey, a Westover neighbor, of the boarding house operators.

Copyright 2014 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.

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