Approximately 10 tenants of an apartment house were forced to move out with little notice after the Durant Office of Community Development condemned the structure.
The apartment house, located at 1317 N. Sixth Ave., south of the Southeastern campus, was condemned Wednesday morning after the Durant Fire Department responded to a natural gas leak in an upstairs apartment.
Firefighters were dispatched at 7:46 a.m. and when they arrived, they learned a water heater had been removed, and the gas valve to it was turned on. The building was immediately condemned as dangerous and unsafe by the Office of Community Development.
Utility services were disconnected and all tenants were ordered out by the end of the day. Paul Gaither, who was a tenant in a first-floor apartment, said he was told that morning he had to be out in six hours.
“I don’t have no place to go,” Gaither said. “I don’t know what I’m gonna do. I don’t see how it would be legal to kick someone out in six hours.”
Community Development Director Joseph Marquardt said the condemnation was due to safety hazards. He said about 10 people lived in the apartments and previously, there had been “squatters” staying in a complex behind the house.
“It is in a very severe state of dilapidation,” Marquardt said. “Due to city ordinances and building codes, we can’t let them stay there. It’s a life-safety issue.”
Among the hazards are gas leaks, improper electrical wiring and overloaded circuits, sanitary conditions and numerous other structural issues that do not meet building codes such as stairways, defective ovens, improper venting for gas appliances and improper locks on doors, according to Marquardt, who said there were no smoke detectors in the structure.
According to Marquardt, the tenants were given more than six hours to move out and the last person removed his property at about 7 p.m. Wednesday.
County records indicate Nason Renegar and Christie Renegar are the owners , according to Marquardt, who said he spoke with Christie Renegar Wednesday to inform her of the violations. He said he asked her to come by city hall that day, but that she never arrived. A phone number listed for the owners was disconnected.
A letter was sent to inform them of a public hearing to be held April 29 in the city council chambers at city hall. At the hearing, the property may be declared a public nuisance and if so, the property will be abated which means it would ultimately be torn down if not brought up to code.
Marquardt said two dilapidated structures in the 1500 block of West Texas Street were torn down Tuesday.