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Squalid three-family Norwich house condemned

By Claire Bessette

Publication: The Day

Published October 29. 2013 4:00AM
Seven children among tenants the city helped relocate

Norwich - City building, fire and health officials have condemned an overcrowded three-family house in Greeneville, citing numerous sanitary, structural and safety violations.

Last week, the city Human Services Department helped relocate 15 tenants, including seven children ages 2 to 11 and placed a $13,290 relocation lien on the property at 534-536 N. Main St., owned by Michael Medeiros.

Social Work Supervisor Lee Ann Gomes said one mother and two small children were not listed as legal tenants on any lease, and did not qualify for relocation assistance.

Medeiros said Monday that there were many more tenants living in the apartments without his permission. He blamed the tenants for the bulk of the damage, and plans to file suit in civil court and might inquire about possible criminal charges for the damage.

Medeiros said one family allowed relatives to move in without his permission and at one point 13 people were living in the one apartment at 534 N. Main St. Then they brought in three dogs and three cats, while the lease allowed only one cat.

He said the same thing happened in a one-bedroom apartment at 536 N. Main St., where the tenant allowed a boyfriend and a sister with four children to move in.

City inspectors said conditions at 534 N. Main St. were deplorable, with dog and cat feces and urine and strong odors. Environmental Sanitarian David Coughlin called the apartment "unsanitary and unfit for human occupancy, with numerous areas of the floor stained with urine and feces."

The second apartment also was "unfit for human habitation," Coughlin wrote in his report to city Assistant Building Official Greg Arpin, with "unsanitary conditions with garbage, flies and a smell of rotten food throughout the apartment."

Arpin condemned the building Oct. 18 and last Friday issued a two-page letter outlining repairs needed. Arpin said much of the first floor is rotted and is unsafe in several areas.

"Extensive repairs are needed to correct this," Arpin wrote.

Among the more serious violations was the discovery that the exhaust vent for the gas furnace had been ripped out of the wall, venting the heating exhaust directly into the basement. With warm weather lingering through mid-October, the heat had not yet been turned on, Arpin said. A washer and dryer hookup in the basement also was done incorrectly as was the dryer vent.

Smoke detectors were either missing or had been removed, and baseboard heating units had been damaged and covers were missing.

Medeiros said he was extremely frustrated at the conditions. He said when he bought the 1875 house at auction, he renovated it with a new roof, electrical and plumbing systems and vinyl siding. He said he has had good tenants until recently and had started evictions proceedings with tenants owing more than $5,500 in back rent.

Medeiros said fixing the new damage could cost $25,000 or more. He has started repairs and hopes to reopen one apartment soon.

c.bessette@theday.com

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