The Enston district of Charleston, South Carolina is a relatively affluent area, which is why affordable housing is a necessity for the region’s less well-off residents. The Charleston Housing Authority owns two large thirteen story duplexes that house numerous tenants who have difficulty paying the high rent rates in other apartment buildings in the city. The two duplexes are not federally funded under the national government’s affordable housing programs; instead, the duplexes are owned by the local government. These duplexes are priced at around 950 dollars per month for a two bedroom unit, which is cheaper than the city’s average monthly rental rate, but more expensive than the city’s federally funded housing projects. The duplexes exist in order to provide homes to low-income residents who do not qualify for federal housing, but still cannot afford Charleston’s usual rental rates. Lately, tenants within the duplexes have suffered through multiple disasters, such as rising flood waters, air-ventilation issues, and structural problems within the duplexes. However, the structural issues have existed for as long as most of the tenants have lived within the building. Despite, persistent concerns among tenants about the structural integrity of the two duplexes, the owners have repeatedly assured the tenants that the duplexes are in perfect condition. As it turned out, this claim on the part of the owners was not at all true, as they have known about a long-running termite infestation within the two duplexes.
Recently, many of the tenants received letters from the owners telling them to move out in order for the building to undergo structural repairs. Apparently, the termite damage is extensive enough that it cannot be repaired without endangering the tenants. The owners are dodging the tenant’s questions about termite infestations within the buildings by citing legal reasons that don’t seem to make much sense to the tenants. One female tenant began seeing termites flood into her unit through a hole in her wall three weeks ago.
Records show that termite infestations quickly took form in the duplexes shortly after they were built. Inspectors at the time noticed that the soil beneath the structures had never been treated with insecticides. Furthermore, the inspectors had also found that the duplexes’ ventilation system had not been properly constructed, which caused moisture levels to rise in the buildings. These high moisture levels invited termites into the structures. As a result of this neglect and the termite infestations that resulted, the housing authority sued the construction company responsible for building the duplexes. Eventually, the construction company settled for four million dollars. However, the problem lies in the fact that the housing inspectors failed to make the proper corrections to the structure that would have prevented further termite infestations. If that is not enough, the housing authorities also failed to eradicate the termite infestation that had already existed within the duplexes. Recently, due to mounting pressure, the housing authority announced that it will devote 770,000 dollars to the duplexes’ renovation.
Would you file a lawsuit over the termite presence within the duplexes if you lived there?