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Bloomington Issues Notice To Vacate Crossing At Walnut Springs

Crossing at walnut springs

Residents say they received notices from the city July 9 saying they have 30 days to move. (Seth Tackett, WFIU/WTIU News)

Residents of a Bloomington apartment complex are scrambling to find a place to live after the city issued a notice to vacate the property by Aug. 9.

The city says it’s the result of the property owner, Jeff Jones, repeatedly failing to address code violations. 

Jones is the owner of Pendragon Properties, which rents dozens of apartments and houses in Monroe County. Several of his properties are involved in ongoing foreclosure cases with IU Credit Union, while court documents show others have repeatedly been in violation of city rental codes over the past few years. 

Court documents claim one of those properties, the Crossing at Walnut Springs, hasn't been in full compliance since November 2014. That's when the city says the property's rental occupancy permit expired, which is required in order for tenants to occupy a building. Jones did apply and pay for a new occupancy permit, but the city didn't grant it because it isn't allowed to issue a permit when a property isn't up to code. 

The city's case against the Crossing at Walnut Springs started in November 2017, after it says Housing And Neighborhood Development inspected several units following resident complaints and found them to be in violation of city codes. Among the issues cited in inspection reports: windows that don't open easily, holes in doors, improperly working smoke detectors and mold. The city says Jones failed to correct the issues.

Court documents say a September 2018 off-cycle inspection revealed more than 500 violations at the property, including inoperable smoke detectors, electrical issues, plumbing problems and mold and mildew. 

Last month, a judge ordered Jones to bring the property into compliance with city code, or  have all tenants vacate the property within 30 days. The order also says Jones must pay a fine of $75,400 if he fails to address the issues and obtain an occupancy permit. 

HAND Director Doris Sims says in an email a July 8 inspection of the Crossing at Walnut Springs units showed they still weren't in compliance, so the city delivered a 30-day notice to residents saying they must vacate the property by Aug. 9. Sims says the city will notify tenants if the property is brought into compliance and they don't have to move. 

Resident Jose Palacios says he wasn't surprised to see the notice on his door, but he doesn’t know why Jones is still in business.

"There’s no way he can be a landlord for this long and he just keeps getting told, 'Just fix this by this time and you’ll still be a landlord,'" Palacios says. 

Another resident, Randall Vermont Fitzpatrick, says he found out about needing to vacate the day after he left for vacation. He says he's dealt with several issues since moving into his apartment in March, including periods without heat or air conditioning. Now he's worried about being able to find a new place to live in the next three weeks. 

"It's just not something you're supposed to worry about when you have a place and you're supposed to have it for a certain period of time," Fitzpatrick says. 

Records show the city also has a pending code violation case against Jones for another apartment complex, Wildwood Terrace. The case claims Jones doesn't have an occupancy permit for the property, and that he's repeatedly failed to address code violations. A bench trial in that case is scheduled for Aug. 5. 

Jones did not respond to a request for comment, and a property manager at the Crossing at Walnut Springs declined to do an interview. 

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