Renter's Beware

Renter's Beware
By:  Wes Wallace
Cape Girardeau, MO -- If you're buying a house or moving into rental property, then more than likely you'll take a look at it first. Unfortunately that's not what happened to Jim Stewart, who says he agreed to move into a house on Vista Lane sight unseen.
"I was taking the place as a recommendation from a relative," says Stewart, "but when we got here and saw it, it was a nightmare."
He showed us what he calls 'a nightmare'...rat droppings in the basement, doors without doorknobs, and a sewer backup that leaves a disgusting mess every time you flush the toilet.
"You can't take a bath or a shower, you have to go to a hotel, you can't use the toilet, you have to go to a porta-potty or to a gas station, " explains Stewart.
And he says it's been that way for the last six weeks.
So why would anyone live in such conditions for six hours, much less six weeks? Stewart explains he doesn't have a choice, "You can't just pick up and move and I have to wait until I can afford to find somewhere else."
Stewart claims he's contacted his landlord Sam Rhodes about the problem, and says he can't get any help.
I contacted Rhodes Monday evening, he tells me he's working as fast as he can to fix things up, and it's a very big undertaking. Plus Stewart's own sister says her brother and mother told Rhodes they'd just put some of their belongings in the house and not move in, until things were fixed up. She adds her relatives only recently told their landlord about the sewer backing up, and that he can't find a plumber just yet to take on the huge mess.
Stewart admits he hasn't paid any rent money and didn't make a deposit.
He's also filed a complaint with the Cape Girardeau's Division of Inspection Services. Robb McClary directs the office, and says there's no ordinance requiring inspections in between tenants. He points out you can file a complaint or request an inspection. Since Jim Stewart did just that, someone will be out to do an inspection and make note of any violations in the next week. Stewart says he'd like state legislators to pass a law requiring inspections of rental property.