Codes attempting to contact owners of fire-damaged rental property
City Codes officials spent Tuesday trying to contact the owners of a double house in the 1500 block of Memorial Avenue where 14 tenants were displaced Monday afternoon after a structure fire heavily damaged the properties.
The landlords identified by the city are Antoni Szkaradek, of Columbia, S.C., who owns the 1533 Memorial Ave. side of the duplex, and Emmanes Doxy, of Vauxhall, N.J., who owns the 1535 Memorial Ave. side, according to Joseph Gerardi, city codes administrator.
Neither of the properties had updated inspections, Gerardi said.
The landlords also were not registered at the codes department, a requirement under a recently passed city rental ordinance that went into effect Jan. 1, he said.
“Owners of rental properties or landlords must register their names, the addresses of the properties they own and the number of occupants at each with the city Codes Department,” Gerardi said.
There were no working smoke alarms and no heat sources other than what the tenants on both sides were using, such as stoves and portable space heaters, Gerardi said. “That’s a code violation and subject to fine.”
Fourteen people living in the double house most likely exceeded the occupancy limits required under the International Property Maintenance Code, he said.
Also Tuesday, codes personnel went to a private residence in the 800 block of East Third Street where a number of the occupants of the burned-down house were living temporarily.
“It is a home but, the code requires only three unrelated people can live in a single-family dwelling,” Gerardi said. Otherwise, the building becomes a rental and is subject to rental law, he added.
Gerardi said the landlords have 10 days to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty regarding any citations issued by the codes department. If they don’t comply within that time, a district judge can issue a warrant for their arrest, he said.
The cause of the two-alarm fire, which broke out about 2:15 p.m., remains under investigation.
Investigators on Monday tentatively identified tenant Lucille Odrick as the owner of the 1535 side and her daughter, city resident Mary Jackson, as the owner of the 1533 side.
Investigators said Tuesday that information was incorrect. The two women were in the process of purchasing the property through a land-lease agreement at the time of the fire, according to officials.