From construction to cranes, everywhere you look you see growth in Nashville.
While city leaders say that growth keeps the numbers of eyesores down because developers will buy those properties and flip them. News4 found properties facing issues for over two decades.
Pillars leaning on its side. The porch lamp dangles with rust. The roof appears to be caving in. An East Nashville home on Fairwin Avenue has a sign saying that it is “Unfit for Humans.”
It’s not just days away from being demolished after a 30-year battle with codes on and off that neighbors know all too well.
“He tried for a while to fix it up because codes was getting on him, but, his efforts to put a new roof were so minimal that I actually think it did more damage than good,” Mark Magnuson said.
Metro Codes said it tries to keep properties from getting to this state, using Flex Inspectors like Tad Dominiak. News4 spent a day driving and walking from one Davidson County home to the next, making sure they’re up to par.
During Dominiak’s inspection, News4 observed a couch sitting outside, more than 10 tires in someone’s yard and vehicles parked outside with out of state expired tags. All of these are Metro Codes violations.
Residents have a wide array of reporting options through Metro Nashville's hubNashville website's property violations reporting page.
“Some people would call and say ‘What’s going on with my property? There’s nothing going on here!’ It’s not a head scratcher. You got junk laying out in your yard,” Dominiak said.
He’s been a codes inspector for four years and travels to about 60 properties a week. Oftentimes, he said, it can be dangerous.
“Because it’s their property. Who are you to tell them what to do on it. So, people do take offense to us ‘regulating’ or ‘dictating.’ We’re the messenger. We didn’t make the code. We just enforce it,” Dominiak said.
Dominiak said many homes resolve their issues after a warning, and for the others, he gives violators plenty of opportunities to get things right.
“I can work with people to get it there. But we do take into consideration people’s plight,” Dominiak said.
Those opportunities can lead to years of back and forth, which brings us back to Fairwin Avenue.
It’s first violation was back in 1989. There are five other properties currently scheduled for demolition, with many of them also facing a more than 10 years of back and forth with the city.
"It could take maybe a couple of environmental court hearings to get through that. It could take time to find the person responsible in order to serve that notice. So, those legal requirements can make it seem a lot longer, and it can take a while to get there, but once we get the notice, we do go out there, regardless, and make sure that if there's a violation notice, we're citing them,” Metro Codes spokesman Sean Braisted said.
It’s a situation the owner, William Maupin of the Fairwin Avenue Property, said is all too familiar. News4 asked him why his property has been vacant for so long.
“I was working and getting people that’s got the skill to do it. I just don’t want it patched. I want it done right,” Maupin said.
Maupin said he had every intention to do something with his property, but said he fell on hard times physically and financially.
“I’ve already checked on what it’ll cost to get the windows. Of course, I had tears. It cost so much,” Maupin said.
Overall Maupin said he would have to pay about $200,000 in repairs. He said he has less than 45 days to clean it up or it gets demolished. It’s a rock and a hard place the city says they strive to avoid.
The price for a demolition varies based on the size of the home. On average Metro Codes said it can cost around $8,000 to $12,000.
Even if a home is scheduled to be demolished, there’s typically no set date, depending on the situation.
Metro Codes said it will typically issue a demolition order for 60-90 days to be completed by the owner.
If not, they pursue it through Metro. Then comes another hurdle, getting bids on the job and then waiting for the bid to be awarded to a contractor.
Here are some tips for property owners who may be at risk of a violation:
- You cannot have grass or weeds over 12 inches.
- Exterior damage, such as things falling off the roof, the roof is caving in, or the gutters are falling off of the side are all considered code violations.
- Property owners are given an abatement notice first. If Metro Codes determines it is unfit, a work order is placed on the door. Even then, homeowners still have time to appeal.
- Finally, if you find yourself in this situation, the worst thing you can do is ignore the problem. Code inspectors often offer suggestions for homeowners if they have trouble cleaning up their properties, depending on the situation.