Family Moves Out of Troubled Trailer Into Apartment

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"I feel like I've turned over a new leaf," said Charletta Hardwick.

The young mother and her family now have a new place to live.

Hardwick, her two young children and 16 year old brother moved into the Griffin Heights Apartments just in time to celebrate Thanksgiving.

The complex manager Andr-e Gay saw our story about the trailer with multiple code violations where the family had been living.

She offered to help.

"There's no rodents, there's no rats, there's no holes in the wall, there's no soft spots," said Hardwick. "Me and my kids we love it," she said.

"It touched my heart, made me feel really good that I was able to help at least one family for the holidays," said Gay.

Charletta's new apartment features new energy efficient appliances and new cabinets.

Meanwhile, Tallahassee's code enforcement director says an inspection of Charletta's previous home scheduled for yesterday was canceled by the landlord because the violations aren't fixed.

However, he says there's nothing preventing her from renting the property again.

Rats, sewer and electrical problems might not prevent a landlord from renting.

That word comes from Tallahassee's code enforcement director.

We asked him about a home we first showed you last week.

"This is where the room caught on fire," said Charletta Hardick pointing to a wall outlet in a bedroom.

Hardwick has been living in a trailer with her two young children and 16 year old brother.

"The first night I was here, I heard rodents eating through my food," she said.

What Charletta says she didn't know when she arrived was landlord Cassandra Riggins had an unresolved case with Tallahassee Code Enforcement for dozens of violations.

City records show three of them, bars on the windows, holes in the floor and exposed wiring made it dangerous.

"The property is still under that violation notice, but the elements that made it a dangerous building had been repaired at the time they were reinspected," said Michael Parker, Tallahassee Economic and Community Development Director, who oversees code enforcement.

But other violations haven't been resolved.

The city has fined Riggins company "Big Mama's House" more than $9500, hired a collection agency to go after the money and placed a lien on her property.

Another inspection last month found new unresolved violations.

With the help of Eyewitness News and one of our viewers, Charletta has found a new home.

But she says she doesn't want anyone else to make the same mistake she did.

"You mean to tell me they put a pink sign on here and you're supposed to rent this out to somebody else after somebody else is going through this?", said Hardwick.

"There's nothing we can do to stop it from being leased unless it's been deemed a dangerous building," said Parker.

Riggins tells us she plans to get the trailer up to code and pay her fines.

If she doesn't, Parker says the city could foreclose on the property and ultimately demolish it.

But he says that process can take years.

A family of four who lives in a trailer with numerous unresolved code violations is getting a new apartment.

After a property manager saw our story Wednesday, she offered to rent Charletta Hardwick and her family a three bedroom apartment.

That apartment is in the Griffin Heights complex on Basin Street not far from FSU's campus.

Charletta says she and her family will move into their new home by Thanksgiving.

"We are extremely excited about it," she said. "I'm so thankful and I'm overwhelmed with all the support from her and everybody else," said Hardwick. "I just want to say thank you, thank you Andy, thank you," she said.

Charletta says Tallahassee Code Enforcement shouldn't allow the landlord to rent to anyone else until the property is fixed properly.

Landlord Casandra Riggins who owns the property under the name "Big Mama's House" tells us she plans to fix the trailer.

But city records show numerous violations have remained unresolved for over a year.

And Riggins is facing more than 95-hundred dollars in fines.

The city is adding $35-dollars a day to those fines as long as the violations aren't fixed.

Rodent problems, holes in the floor, open wiring and sewer pipes.

Those issues are just a few of the ones Tallahassee city inspectors have found at a home where a family of four is now living.

Charletta Hardwick is the mother of two young children.

She also has been taking care of her 16 year old brother for six years after her mother died unexpectedly.

Without a job and multiple evictions, the FAMU grad's only option was to move into this trailer in south Tallahassee.

"The first night I was here, I heard rodents eating through my food," said Hardwick.

And after her arrival in September, Charletta found other issues including with the ceiling.

"This falling in," she said pointing at a drooping part of the ceiling.

There are also several floor problems.

"There's a soft spot in here," Charletta said showing us a spot under her living room rug.

When she first arrived, city records also show there was no stove or refrigerator, which after a city complaint, were added.

"I was cooking on a skillet and a hot plate," Charletta said.

There are plumbing and electrical issues which include a fire starting at a socket and rats.

"I've killed two rats inside my home," she said.

What Charletta says she didn't know when she moved in was city code enforcement had labeled the home a dangerous building in 2011.

City records show that case and a new one opened last month are unresolved.

And the landlord owes the city more than $9500 in fines for failing to bring the building into compliance.

The landlord tells us she's sent people to fix the building, but Charletta has turned them away.

Charletta says the landlord expects her to pay for those repairs.

"I know I don't have a lot of options, but I don't believe me and my children deserve to stay and live like this," she said.

The landlord told us by phone if Charletta had left by October 20th, she would've refunded the entire $750 dollar deposit.

But since she didn't she's taking the $500 dollars a month for rent from the deposit and proceeding with an eviction.

Charletta says she's trying to leave, but hasn't found a new place yet.

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