Dubuque tenant battles landlord issues and eviction - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque tenant battles landlord issues and eviction


Terrible living conditions, late rent payments and a building up for auction. It all leads up to the eviction of two families in Dubuque. Which leads to questions about city ordinances, housing codes and renters' rights and it all started with a phone call from a tenant.

DeLisa Fisher was sitting in a dark apartment after her electricity shut off last Thursday. She said she paid rent in full and was extremely upset. We dug a little deeper and found out that was just the beginning.

"Ain't nothing been right since I've been here," Fisher said.

And she's been living at 1199 Central Avenue in Dubuque for four years now. Every month she pays $625 to live in a three bedroom apartment.

"How do landlords keep getting away with things like this?," Fisher said.

"It's a rental property with 12 units in it. It's been under code enforcement since last October," Dubuque Housing Inspection Program Supervisor Bob Boge said.

And that means that since October 2010, building inspectors have written citations here for dozens of code violations. Including roach infestation, broken doors, unclean unit and vacant units, exterior issues, broken windows, mechanical repairs and furnace problems.

"It's currently livable. And it just barely meets the minimum requirements," Boge said.

"We've been in this building a lot. And we've responded to a lot or any number of complaints," Dubuque Housing Department Supervisor David Harris said.

But it doesn't stop there. Do a quick search on the property and you'll find it up for auction on June 7th, 2011.

We tried to reach the owner of the property, Kenneth Moore. His work line was disconnected and his cell phone mailbox was full. But documents from the Sheriff's Department show he owes more than $600,000 on the building.

Tuesday morning we received a call from Fisher after she got a letter from the property manager, Vince Kilberg. She said it was an eviction notice for owing $600 in late fees for her rent. Though she says she paid rent in two installments each month.

"And I've had the agreement with him since I moved here," Fisher said.

So we called Kilberg.

"I have nothing to say. I won't say anything on anything," Kilberg told us on the phone.

And when we arrived at 1199 Central on Tuesday morning a crew, who said they work for the property owner, were parked outside with an empty loading truck. They left soon after we arrived.

Now Fisher has 30 days to find somewhere else to live.

"He owes the city. I don't owe anyone my rent is paid. Up to this day," Fisher said.

Again we tried to contact Mr. Moore. And we spoke with the property manager on the phone.

Keep in mind, most of the conditions in Fishers apartment meet the bare minimum requirement for city code. And some of the violations are the tenants responsibility.

So now we're asking: what are the rights of the tenant and the landlord in this situation?

"The tenant does have options but none of them are a quick remedy," Iowa Legal Aid Attorney Carrie O'Connor said.

Wednesday on the KWWL News at Ten, we'll talk with Iowa Legal Aid and explain the laws behind this situation. What are the rights of a tenant? And how can they get the help they need.

Dubuque police tell us that over the past two years they have received 18 calls for service at 1199 Central Avenue. Police say poorly managed rental properties that have increased calls for police service are problematic for everyone.

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