We’ve all heard of getting fired because of a blog. But evicted? That’s right! After bringing the city’s attention to an unsafe rental property, the writer behind 10SBoulevard got the boot. Check out this craziness…
Editor’s note: This post originally appeared today on 10 South Boulevard. It is being republished here with the author’s permission.
Evicted and exiled, that's the consequence of blogging at 10SBoulevard.com and bringing the city's attention to an unsafe rental property. Loyal readers have expressed shock and dismay that hyper-local coverage of news in the Boulevard area has reduced to a trickle over the past week as a result of the eviction of the last 10SBoulevard.com blogger.
It was September of 2008 when my landlord discovered our community news site and began a campaign of harassment to force me to find a new home. The property owner made numerous attempts to unilaterally void my lease for reasons irrelevant to our rental agreement , he neglected to make repairs and diminished service to my apartment, and he scrawled bizarre notes for the purpose of harassment on the back of deposited checks.
With all of this threatening behavior I realized this guy has limited interest in keeping up his property and that his motive was to silence my reporting of news of community interest, ie. public safety issues. He did not want attention drawn to dangerous conditions that plagued his aging buildings . After this realization I documented all of the questionable conditions on the property and notified inspectors with the Richmond City Division of Code Enforcement.
In October of 2008 Code enforcement representatives found that the wobbly four story fire escapes on the building were in serious states of decay and no longer safe for residents to utilize much less first responders in the event of an emergency. According to the inspector one of these fire escapes was supported by little more than a bottle jack (similar to an automobile tire jack).
The property owner was ordered to replace the dangerous structures at 10 S Boulevard by city officials in the fall of 2008 and it was only in the spring of 2009 after threats from those same city officials did the landlord pursue construction. According to placards left on the building by Code Enforcement the property owner has until July 30 to finish the project or face fines, criminal prosecution and condemnation of the top floor of the building. As of this writing on July 28th the fire escapes remain in states of disrepair with lumber and debris strewn about the area.
Since the harassment and threats commenced I sent my monthly rent check of $1,050 via Certified US mail. A total of 8 checks were mailed certified and received by the property owner. In June of 2009 I sent my check on time via first class mail thinking "during these difficult economic times who would turn away a $1,050 check?" Answer: My Landlord.
On June 12 my landlord filed with Richmond General District Courts for possession of my apartment claiming that rent for the month of June was not received. I went to court and explained that my landlord failed to notify me of non-receipt of rent with a legally mandated 5 Day Pay or Quit Notice. Without hearing more on the case and its retaliatory nature the judge awarded possession of my apartment unit to the landlord effectively allowing eviction.
For now I am blogging in exile from North Boulevard until I begin a new lease on South Boulevard in August. Many have asked what will become of this site and will you continue writing? Much has changed since 10SBoulevard.com began as an organizing tool and outlet for news among tenants in one building over a very small geographic area.
Our audience is now shockingly large and our scope of coverage has increased tremendously. In the next week a new site will be launched that embodies the full scope of Boulevard, Carytown and Museum District life. We'll cover the same great stories with the same excitement, enthusiasm and sensationalism as 10SBoulevard.com
As to 10 S Boulevard the property, I am glad that this site and my efforts with the city compelled the landlord to remedy dangerous conditions. Instead of facing a future tragedy with "well we all knew it would collapse one day" I can take comfort in knowing at least one property on the Boulevard is a safer place to call home. Isn't that what matters the most?