Seated for the first time in years to look at the complaint of a Harmar tenant, the Marietta Fair Housing Board convened Monday and asked the tenant's landlord to postpone eviction proceedings.
For over a year, 58-year-old Trish Landsittel has been urging the Harold and Janet Cranston, the owners of her rental on Fort Street, to repair the stairs to her second floor apartment.
"The stairs were dangerous. The steps were rotted. There was no handrail, which is totally out of compliance," said Landsittel.
JASMINE ROGERS The Marietta Times
Trish Landsittel stands near the stairs to her Fort Street Apartment. Landsittel has argued for months to have her landlord perform repairs to the stairs and has now filed a complaint to the Marietta Fair Housing Board.
After multiple complaints and court proceedings, some repair work has been done, said Landsittel, but now she has been informed her lease will not be renewed-a decision which Landsittel feels is retaliation for her persistence in getting the stairs repaired.
"I had my rent placed in escrow. While my rent was in escrow I was sent a letter telling me I needed to vacate my premise by March 31," said Landsittel.
Meeting Monday, the Marietta Fair Housing Board asked an attorney for the Cranstons to urge them to stay eviction proceedings, confirmed Felix Burrows, chair of the Marietta Fair Housing Board.
Harold Cranston referred questions about the situation to his attorney, Colleen Cook.
Cook left a message with The Times declining to comment on pending cases.
The complaint with the fair housing board is one of the latest in a long line of resources Landsittel has appealed to first get the stairs fixed, and now to prevent her from being kicked out.
After a first accident in July when a step broke and Landsittel's son fell down the stairs, she started petitioning multiple agencies, seeking a way to have the problem addressed.
The Ohio Civil Rights Commission currently has an open case looking into the matter, she said.
After a second accident in December she started taking court action.
"In December, a step broke under my mother and threw her down and she had to go to the emergency room. She was 76 and the picture of health. Now that's not the case," said Landsittel, referring to pain and health problems her mother has had since the fall.
Landsittel petitioned in January to have her rent put in escrow, and for two months Marietta Municipal Court held her rent.
In a ruling filed April 1, Marietta Municipal Court Magistrate Anne Keegan agreed that the stairs had been out of compliance with the state fire code for eight months. But the code violations had been rectified as of March 10, Keegan wrote.
Keegan ordered the rent in escrow be released at that point, but docked the landlord $25 a month for the "defective conditions".
Around the same time she petitioned to have her rent put in escrow, Landsittel filed a complaint with the fair housing board. That complaint effectively reinstated the Fair Housing Board after it had been inactive for many years, said Marietta City Law Director Paul Bertram.
"At that point, there were five people impaneled," said Bertram.
However, one member resigned. Another recused herself from the particular case and a new member had to be seated before the board had a quorum, said Bertram.
The board met Monday, and will meet again this coming Monday for an executive session to hear more about the case, he said.