Columbus family warns about nightmare rental

A Columbus family is warning about a nightmare rental situation (WSYX/WTTE)

Imagine moving into a new home with your family and within weeks are told you have to get out because the property isn't safe. It's a nightmare, that a Columbus family is dealing with right now.

What's even worse, the family says the property owner knew about the problems before hand.

"If we would have had notice, or they would have forewarned us to let us know something was going on we could have maybe done something about it," said Josh Kidwell.

Kidwell is none too happy and for good reason. Kidwell told ABC6 that he recently came home to discover a sign on his front door reading "Danger, do not enter. Unsafe to occupy." The home is deemed not up to code by the city building and zoning department..

"To come home one night and not be able to get back in our house, especially with our one and a half year old daughter, it's not much we can do. I mean, since the city has posted the notice on the door, we're not technically allowed in the house to get any of our property at all. We've kind of been in limbo with all our stuff," Kidwell told ABC6.

ABC6 went through records and it turns out, there was an electrical fire in the attic of the home back in April of 2014. Shortly there after, the property was shut down and no one is allowed to live there until the property is inspected.

The zoning department sent ABC6 a statement reading in part, "the property had been vacant since a fire and subsequent unsafe building orders in 2014. The specific concerns were collapsing drywall, damage to electrical systems and compromised roof trusses. A routine monitoring inspection last week showed that our unsafe building placard had been removed, so it was reposted as an unsafe building." (Ryan R. Kelsey-Department of Building and Zoning Services)

Kidwell had no idea. To make matters worse, he told ABC6 that managers at White Picket Properties LLC, the listed owners of the home have not been much help.

"We actually pay $950 dollars a month. We did pay the first and last month's rent, along with a deposit. It's pretty frustrating to be honest, considering they didn't answer our phone calls. Even after that, our phones were blocked and they weren't answering our phone calls or anything," said Kidwell.

Kidwell told ABC6 that managers are refusing to refund back rent and they are not providing any help for other housing. A search of records from the state auditors office indicates the company owns at least thirty-seven properties in Franklin County alone.

"They actually mentioned that we should have had renters insurance, but from my understanding it wouldn't have covered our issues anyway because it happened prior to us moving in," said Kidwell.

ABC6 attempted numerous times to get in contact with the property owner, through calls and text messages. ABC6 also did a bit of research into White Picket Properties and it turns out the business doesn't even have a standard address. In fact, they only have a P.O. Box located inside of a New Albany post office.

The city zoning department told ABC6 that before anyone can move back into the home, the owner has to submit plans for repair. Once the building and electrical permit is issued and all the work is approved through the inspection process, then and only then will the hazard order be lift.

"We've consulted an attorney about it.. I guess we'll take it step by step," said Kidwell.

As far as Kidwell and his family, they're simply trying to figure out the next step. With no home and thousands already spent, his frustration is certainly understandable. The family told ABC6 that for now, they're living with relatives. They want this to serve as a major warning to other people. Know everything you can about a property before handing over that rent check and moving in. They certainly wish they would have done more homework.

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