Police, fire services visit Forrester Gardens after complaints over living conditions

Forrester Gardens residents say there hasn’t been much headway made after they first complained of inhumane living conditions, but the health department and city services are ensuring tenants’ homes are safe.

WVUA 23 News first reported on the apartments at the beginning of April, after tenants said they’d been living with raw sewage backed up in their bathrooms.

Tina Blair, who lives at Forrester Gardens, said earlier this month that she’s been forced to live with up to 4 inches of what looked and smelled like feces in her sink for nearly two weeks.

Because of the sink issue and many others, Blair said she’s been withholding rent from the leasing office for the past four months.

According to Alabama law, tenants cannot withhold rent if a landlord does not make repairs. Instead, tenants must inform the landlord in writing of required repairs and give the landlord 14 days to respond unless the request is an emergency.

If repairs aren’t made after a written request, the tenant can terminate the lease and move without penalty, or the tenant can sue the landlord and force them to make repairs. Landlords cannot retaliate against a tenant’s complaints.

Since she spoke to WVUA 23 News, Blair said maintenance has visited her home and fixed some of her issues.

“They did it the next day after I was on the TV station,” she said.

Blair said she she’s gotten multiple threats since she spoke out to the media, and now she fears she may be evicted because she’s been withholding her rent payments.

“I never did this for anybody to get in trouble, I just didn’t want to die,” Blair said. “I didn’t understand what was coming out (of my sink). I had smelled all those fumes and that stuff was in my room. I had to smell it every day. I reported it, I just don’t know what else to do.”

Blair is far from the only tenant making complaints about the conditions at Forrester Gardens, and now the city is stepping in.

On Wednesday morning, the Tuscaloosa Police Department and Tuscaloosa Fire Rescue visited the complex alongside the health department to ensure it was habitable.

“We are basically here to work with other departments,” said Tuscaloosa Police Chief Brent Blankley. “If the health department or any other department of the city says this place has to be shut down, at that point we offer the security for that.”

Blankley said anyone who believes they’re being forced to live in uninhabitable conditions can contact the Tuscaloosa Police Department at 205-349-2121 and ask for the Vice Unit.

You can learn more about your rights as a tenant in Alabama right here.

Read more:

Apartment tenants: Raw sewage overflowing from sinks, homes are unlivable: April 14, 2023

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