Tenants at a Camden Avenue apartment complex this morning were told to leave immediately after San Jose code enforcement inspectors red-tagged 11 units as unsafe.
When San Jose firefighters fought a blaze there in July 2012, they discovered that it lacked proper fire exits, according to code enforcement spokeswoman Cheryl Wessling. Code enforcement inspectors subsequently discovered a number of things wrong with the building, especially related to the supports of balconies and decks.
Wessling said the inspectors told the building’s owner to get a building permit in to make the repairs and continued to monitor the property regularly. However, the owner let the permit expire and never made the repairs.
“They were never acting on the construction that the permit allowed,” Wessling said. “We started bringing down the hammer.”
During a check last week, inspectors found several items that needed to be addressed immediately, according to Wessling. They included a balcony with a hole in it that the owner had been asked to rope off, as well as deteriorating guardrails and hazardous stairs. One staircase needed stucco removed so the underside of an attached deck could be examined. The bottom stop of a set of stairs was also determined to be a tripping hazard.
The property owner was warned then that the building would be red-tagged if repairs were not done immediately, Wessling said. The inspectors red-tagged the building when they returned this morning after finding nothing had changed.
While it remains unclear where tenants will go for now, Wessling said the owner is on the hook to provide relocation assistance in accordance with a city ordinance.
“When this sort of thing happens the landlord is obligated to assist with relocation for tenants,” she said.
Once a building is red-tagged there is a strict timeline for making repairs and the owner can be fined for not complying, she said. However, code enforcement would prefer to see the owner simply make the repairs instead.
“We’re not in the business of collecting fines,” she said. “We want better properties, so I do know they try and help the owners see the logic of that.”
Calls to property management were not answered.
Julia Baum can be reached at 408-200-1054.