'No one should have to live like this' | Durham family fed up with rental home problems

Diane Wilson Image
Thursday, July 13, 2023
Durham rental repairs so extensive, family forced to evict
A Durham family that's up-to-date on rent is being forced out of their home through no fault of their own.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Durham mother, her husband and their nine children are being forced to move out of their home because of the home's numerous code violations, which she said she reported months ago.

"When it rains, it just gets bigger and bigger and opens up more," Shemica Pierce said as she showed Troubleshooter Diane Wilson where water comes into her Durham rental home through holes in the ceiling.

"No one should have to live like this. They wouldn't want their family to live like this. I sit here, and I pay you every single month," Pierce said.

Pierce and her family have been living like this for months.

"My 7-year-old was sleeping on the top bunk but then it got wet and opened up and got bigger and bigger," she recalled.

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What was supposed to be a forever home for a Chatham County family is now an "unsellable" home that they fear isn't even fit to live in.

Pierce said the water started coming into her Durham rental home last fall during a storm. She said she reported it right away to the property management company.

"Eight different companies have come out, taken pictures, looked all around the house, went on the roof, went through the attic, everything and there's still no work."

Fed up, Pierce reached out to Troubleshooter Diane Wilson and also the City of Durham. According to the report, inspectors found 15 violations of the city's codes, including roof leaks and holes in the ceiling.

Pierce told Wilson the report made her angry.

"Even though I put in request after request after request, calls, pictures -- and I didn't get anything until I got you and the city involved. How is that fair?"

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"It's a long time coming but we're really excited," Stephanie Hayden said as she walked through her newly constructed home she never thought would become a reality.

After Wilson got involved, the property management company in charge of the property, Conrex, sent crews out to fix the problems. Pierce's rental home now has new shingles on the roof, which did stop the water from coming inside.

A representative with Conrex told Wilson after looking at the damage, there are so many repairs needed that they will require Pierce and her family to leave the property and find a new place to live.

"They said the damage is too expensive, but if they had fixed it when I first reported it in September of last year, it wouldn't be this expensive," Pierce said.

A representative also said they are working with Pierce to find a new place that fits the needs of her family. Pierce said the whole process has been difficult especially with the size of her family, which makes trying to find a new place to live very difficult.

"Yes, I have two jobs and their dad has a job and is still not where you want us to be three times the rent, that's outrageous. I feel worried that I'm going to run out of time and I'm going to end up back in a hotel l with my 9 children That's rough. It's not my fault. And I shouldn't have to have to deal with that, especially when it's their fault not my fault; it's theirs."

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Pierce must be out of the rental home by the end of July. Pierce also said Conrex agreed to give her $2,000 to help with her moving expenses. The City of Durham has also given them more time to make the repairs that are code violations in the home.

When it comes to your rights as a renter, as soon as your notice a problem, report it to the landlord or property management company in writing and get proof they received it. You can't stop paying rent, unless your landlord agrees in writing, or a judge orders it. A landlord must comply with building and housing codes. If they are not complying, report it, but just know if the property is condemned, you may have to move.