CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Tenants continue to evacuate a Jackson Street apartment house declared uninhabitable last week by city building inspectors, Building Commissioner Tony Harmon said.
"Most are moving out. One guy is supposed to be moving out today," he said Tuesday.
The building at 1411 Jackson St. -- a wood-frame house divided into six or seven apartments that reportedly was home to at least 15 people -- has not been condemned, contrary to earlier reports, Harmon said.
"The status is the house is closed down until all the violations are corrected."
The city Building Department sent owner Timothy Harold Stone a certified letter Friday, a day after the house was closed, notifying Stone of 13 building code violations.
Under state law, Stone has 21 days after he receives the letter to correct the violations, Harmon said.
"It it's not corrected, he receives a citation to appear in municipal court and can receive a $500 fine per violation."
As of Tuesday, Stone had not received the certified letter, Harmon said. "Remember, he's in jail."
Charleston police, who were at the scene after following a tip about possible drug use, arrested Stone after he became belligerent and attacked an officer with a screwdriver, said Lt. Shawn Williams, head of the community services division.
Stone is being held in the South Central Regional Jail as a pre-trial felon, charged with second offense carrying a concealed weapon and two misdemeanors. A preliminary hearing is scheduled Monday before a magistrate, Williams said.
Under Charleston's 2 1/2-year-old rental property registration system, inspectors can visit apartments at random or after they get a complaint. The Jackson Street home came up for a random check at least once, Harmon said, but tenants turned the inspector away.
"There's a lot [of apartments] we get in, a lot we don't. It may be the house is dirty. A lot of people don't like people walking through their house. I've got to respect that."
But after police entered one of the Jackson Street apartments on a drug complaint Thursday and noticed what Williams called "deplorable" conditions, they called Harmon's office. Justin Williams, the inspector for the East End, responded.
"Some of the other tenants wanted him to inspect theirs, too," Harmon said. "He found electrical problems. He found infestations, roaches. Not enough bathrooms working. Space heaters.
"They had latched locks, with padlocks, on the inside of the doors. If there had been a fire they'd have had to find a key and open the lock. By then they'd be burned up. No smoke detectors.
"He took pictures, showed them to me. At that point I made the decision to post the house: unsafe for habitation." Stone became upset when the inspector returned to post the property, police said.
Stone did not receive any federal rent subsidies for the apartments from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, said Peter C. Minter, Charleston field office director. None of Stone's properties are HUD approved, he said.
Regarding 1411 Jackson, "I can't imagine that property being able to pass a local [HUD inspection]," Minter said. "And I can't imagine someone issuing a check from the Charleston Housing Authority to Mr. Stone."
Stone has two other registered rental properties in Charleston, Harmon said -- four units at 1411 1/2 Jackson St. and one on Larchmont Drive, off Woodward Drive in North Charleston. We get a lot of complaints on Larchmont -- debris, drugs," he said.