CHARLESTOWN, IN (WAVE) - Residents in a Charlestown, Indiana neighborhood are upset after a new city program forced a man from his rental home.
On Sept. 7, Richard Wilson came home and found out the city was making him leave the place he rented in the Pleasant Ridge neighborhood due to a health and safety violation.
Fortunately, he was able to move into a place next door.
"I lucked out because I would've been on the street," Wilson, who has lived in the neighborhood for 15 years, said.
Tony Jackson is Charlestown's building commissioner and said a hot water heater had fallen through the floor and was leaned up against an electric panel in the house.
"If that would have broken, it would have hit that electric panel," Jackson said. "It would have energized that whole house."
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The city is now allowed to inspect properties externally without notice or a prior complaint and internally if they give a 21-day notice.
They are targeting the Pleasant Ridge neighborhood where Jackson grew up.
"My mother still lives there," Jackson said. "It was a great place as a kid but the houses there now are over 73 years old and they weren't meant to be there that long."
The homes were built quickly for the US Army back in the 1940s.
"We're at the point now where we have to redevelop because we can't spot fix it anymore," Jackson said.
The neighborhood holds about 350 homes and Jackson said the department has done about 100 exterior inspections and eight interior ones.
"It just brings more money into the city," Wilson said. "They're fining everybody for everything and they're just nitpicking."
Jackson said fines vary but the minimum is $50 per violation per day. He said some properties have between $2,500 and $5,000 a day in fines for landlords.
Josh Craven heads the Pleasant Ridge Neighborhood Association.
"This is 90 percent the landlord's fault," Craven said.
Tuesday's neighborhood association meeting was packed with homeowners upset over the new inspections.
"They've never ever once tried to work with us," Craven said of the city. "It's always been redevelopment. It's never been revitalization."
Jackson said the inspections are making the city safer, but Wilson said it's the renters, not the landlords, who feel the most hurt.