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Jul 24, 2014 12:21 AM by Rebecca Taylor

Property condemned, tenants blow whistle on landlord

TUCSON - With temperatures soaring, living without air conditioning sounds unbearable.

Some renters in midtown reported the landlord after, they say, he refused to fix the electricity. City officials gave him 24 hours to make repairs, but late Wednesday the property was condemned.

Inspectors are worried about the residents health and safety calling the electrical wiring to three units 'hazardous'.

Renters, Doris Manues and her husband Joseph Rucker, have lived in the home near Glenn and Stone since October. They say their electricity is hit and miss.

"I got physically ill during that heat wave, I had a severe urinary tract infection and come to find out I was severely dehydrated even though I was drinking plenty of water," says Manues.

Recent rain she says has caused more trouble. Pointing to the ceiling she says, "and it just fell, there's mold in the insulation."

Frustrated with their landlord's temporary fixes, Manues says she and her neighbors called the City of Tucson.

Code officials confirm they've received two complaints since May. On Tuesday inspectors determined the electrical situation does pose a hazard. If not fixed fast the property would be condemned.

According to City officials there are two buildings on the property. The original house that has been split into a duplex without a permit, and an accessory unit which tenants say the landlord lives in.

"This line from their box goes all the way to his shack," says Rucker pointing to his neighbor's exposed electrical wires.

Inspectors found the wiring was done incorrectly and ordered the landlord to call a certified electrician. But the assessment done by the electrician Wednesday wasn't up to city standards.

All three residences were condemned. Manues, Rucker and their neighbors were asked to gather their belongings and move.

News 4 Tucson asks do you feel safer?

"I feel safer yes. And we want to put it on the record that the city did their job," said Ruckers and Manues.

The landlord denied News 4 Tucson's requests for an on-camera interview. But said he was in the process of evicting Manues and Rucker for failure to pay rent. They admit to withholding payment in return for what they call ‘substandard repairs' and were in the process of moving out.

"The things that he's done, he blames us for. Okay, he blamed us when I stopped paying the rent because he didn't put in the cooler for three months and it's hot in my house," said Rucker.

The landlord tells News 4 Tucson his tenant's claims are false and that he planned on making the necessary repairs.

The City of Tucson is putting Manues and Rucker up in a hotel for two nights while they find new housing.

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