Grass Valley finds Mill Street house structurally sound
Grass Valley city staff have declared a Mill Street home to be “structurally sound,” after the home’s tenant claimed that it was uninhabitable. City inspectors, though, have not entered the inside of the home, opting to examine only the outside of the building.
“Structurally, it didn’t look that bad from what we saw,” Community Development Director Tom Last said. “To go inside, the landlord or the tenants have got to invite us in … At this point that’s something the private inspector will likely do.”
The tenant, Nicole Gilliam, and her family have lived in the two-bedroom house located on the 400 block of Mill Street for more than a year. According to Gilliam, when they moved in last March, the home had issues with leftover damage and mess accumulated from the previous tenants.
Gilliam said she has since complained to the city and property owner Daniel Samrick that the residence is “uninhabitable” due to dry rot, mold, exposed electrical wires, deteriorating siding, broken windows, rodents, and lack of energy capabilities.
Samrick, though, has asserted that the family has lived there for more than a year, and they wouldn’t have continued to live there if there were previous issues with the home.
In December, a complaint was made to the city about the building’s structural issues.
Last said the city inspected the outside of the home in January, and notified Samrick about needed repairs, including rot, decay, broken hand rails, windows, deteriorating siding to the back wall, and holes that allow rodents to enter the building.
The inside of the home, though, was not inspected.
According to Last, Samrick received the necessary permits to begin construction on the home in February, and began making repairs through a private contractor. The city inspected the building in late February and gave Samrick until March 23 to correct any safety issues.
In addition, the home would then be examined to determine whether it was structurally sound, or should be condemned as unsafe and vacated.
On March 25, the city sent inspectors to canvass the exterior of the building and found that there were some repairs made to the home, concluding it to be structurally sound, but again did not examine the inside of the house, said Last.
“We did not notice any serious health and safety issues,” Last said. “There’s still several little things, but they’ve chipped away at things. They’ve got some windows done, they’re working on the siding, but they need to get underneath the house, and board up areas that are under construction. But they’re working on the more critical items.”
Last said the tenants need to move objects stored under the house to allow for Samrick’s private inspector to identify a potential leak in the building’s back wall.
Gilliam said the rear area of the building still has sizable holes, and walls completely pulled out that are being covered by a thin layer of blue tarp.
The objects underneath the house were left there from previous tenants, said Gilliam.
The city sent Samrick a letter following Wednesday’s inspection asking for a specific time line to have the remaining repairs completed.
Last said Samrick also needs to file for an extension on the initial deadline the city gave him to finish the structural repairs.
According to Samrick, he has served the family with two separate eviction notices over the past year for not paying rent.
A current case has been filed in an attempt to recoup more than $11,000 he claims he is owed in rent.
Gilliam, though, said the family hasn’t paid rent since August 2014 due to the uninhabitable conditions of the home, adding that the rent they have been charged does not reflect the value of the building they live in.
“My heater is still broken,” said Gilliam. “My kids are too scared to take a bath in their own tub because they can hear the rats, and they’re afraid they may fall through … We elected to do the rent withholding because we said rent would resume once the things were fixed (that) he said he would have fixed. I just filed a demurrer on him, because he’s trying to say we haven’t paid rent since we moved in, which is not true.”
Local resident Trent Whitington said he previously lived at a residence near the Mill Street house managed by Samrick, but moved out due to a lack of building repairs.
“I felt like I was a good tenant, paid my rent, but Dan Samrick would never fix anything,” Whitington said. “I would call him a slumlord. I was forced to move out because he would not maintain my place.”
Samrick, who is based out of Walnut Creek, admits he has had issues with tenants on his property in the past, though he said he has always repaired the homes he manages when needed.
“I had tenants right before the Gilliams in that same house, two college-aged boys, super nice clean-cut, nice young men,” Samrick said. “I thought they were great … But basically they turned the place into Animal House, held wild parties. They’re actually the ones that caused a lot of the damage to the house.”
Gilliam said some repairs to broken windows and plumbing were recently made, but she still believes the home is in dire condition, adding that she has previously made complaints about the need for proper waste receptacles.
“That’s going to have to be addressed, too,” said Last. “There’s just a lot of mess in the yard, a lot of cars, but the city right now is focused on safety issues, making sure the house itself is secure and a proper living condition. From a code enforcement standpoint, we’re really focused on the health and safety issues, and then we can work our way down the list of things that are not as urgent, but things we’ll have to eventually deal with.”
To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4236.
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