Grovetown condemning dozens of homes as 'not fit to live in'

The city of Grovetown is tackling the problem of run-down homes. (WRDW-TV / Sept. 27, 2011)

The city of Grovetown is tackling the problem of run-down homes. (WRDW-TV / Sept. 27, 2011)

News 12 First at Five / Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011

GROVETOWN, Ga. -- The city of Grovetown is growing, but with more people comes more problems and one issue is run-down homes.

With the help of a new code enforcement officer the city is cracking down and condemning homes, left and right.

"Very poor electrical conditions," said Connie Smith, the Grovetown director of planning and zoning.

Smith has seen her fair share of poorly-maintained properties.

"We've seen the structural defects to where the roof is actually caving in on the homes, and people are living in these," she said.

After looking past the problem for years, Grovetown is tackling it head on.

"It's been an ongoing situation throughout the city for several years. We've been getting complaints from the people who rent the homes and decided it was time to take action to provide a better place for the people to live in," Smith said.

So far this year, the city has condemned 21 properties.

"I was shocked that 21 was unlivable, but there's many more out there that fit the same definition as being unfit and unsafe," Smith said.

From holes in the ceiling to exposed plumbing to sinking toilets and exposed wires, the city looks for all kinds of problems.

"We go in, we do a habitability inspection, we look at everything from the top to the bottom," Smith said. "There's a checklist we go by and if we decide it's unfit and unsafe for us to live in, then we have a meeting with the property owners and we go from there."

Central heating is also a requirement, but many of the homes and rental properties they see don't even have that.

"People are using their ovens, space heaters, the radiator-type heat," Smith said.

Smith says no one should live like that.

"It's very dangerous," Smith said. "I think it's only right that people have a roof over their head and they feel safe going to bed at night."

And 21 properties is just the beginning.

"It's a step in the right direction," Smith said.

The city says some property owners make the necessary repairs, but if they're not willing to invest the money, the owner is responsible for demolishing the structure.

If the owners don't act, the city is forced to step in. Sometimes a judge is also brought in to decide cases.

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