Ripley mayor speaks on eviction letters received by apartment residents

Published: May. 29, 2023 at 6:11 PM CDT
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RIPLEY, Tenn. (WMC) - The mayor of the City of Ripley is clearing up a lot of confusion after tenants for Rolling Hills and Ripley Terrance apartments received a letter from property owners Friday telling them to vacate immediately.

Mayor Craig Fitzhugh says the property owners are not keeping their end of the deal.

Fitzhugh says both apartments, Rolling Hills and Ripley Terrace, are in desperate need of repairs. He says the problem lies in trying to fix the problems while tenants are living there.

Fitzhugh said the repairs to both complexes are just impossible to fix while tenants are there.

As a result, tenants got a notice last Friday from the property owners, Hallmark Companies, to leave immediately.

“We suggested that there are a lot of vacant units... ‘Why don’t you fix up the vacant units and move the folks over?’ and they didn’t like that idea,” said Fitzhugh.

Candy Jones, regional director for Hallmark Companies, said the company is citing a stop work order from the city of Ripley, which Fitzhugh said the city did issue.

He said it is because the property owners are not sticking to want they agreed to.

“The management company has taken it upon themselves to tell the people that the city said to leave, and that’s just not true,” Mayor Fitzhugh said. “We are working with them, and we have plans to rehab those apartments, but they are not in any shape for anybody to be in them right now. So that’s our concern, is to get it done as soon as possible and not throw people out on the street.”

Tenants say they have been complaining about issues for years, from leaking ceilings, busted lights, and even mildew.

Jones does not deny there are issues, but the stop work order is preventing them from making things right with tenants.

“There is no court order,” Fitzhugh said. “This is just our building inspector, who is doing his job and has confirmed it with the fire marshall, that the building is not fit unless they do some rehab.”

He said the city has tried working with the company to make these major repairs, but it hasn’t gotten anywhere.

“The work that they were going to do would be just a piecemeal type of thing,” Mayor Fitzhugh said. “And we had an agreement with them probably less than a month ago, and they sent us something back saying they couldn’t do that and they started doing less than that and it’s just not going to work.”

So, as it stands, Fitzhugh tells Action News 5 tenants “do not” have to leave because it’s not a court order and they also do not plan to take this to court.

He said the city’s intention is to give tenants a safe place to stay that follows the law. The next city meeting is June 5 and they plan to discuss what will happen next.

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