BEDFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — Renters in Bedford County are calling for change to what they claim are unlivable, peristent, and neglected issues.
For renter Tamia Stanton, passing by her former home along Dover Road in Shelbyville brings back far from happy memories.
“I had cracked and broken windows and electrical issues. I also had a huge rat chewing holes in the ceilings and baseboards,” said Stanton. “Very frustrating. I was very upset because I’ve got two young children at home.”
Turns out, Stanton isn’t alone.
“Shelbyville is full of nice hardworking people and unfortunately there are landlords taking advantage of them,” said Stephanie Isaacs, Founder of the Bedford County Listening Project.
That new results of that project highlights the issue beyond Shelbyville, throughout the county.
Isaacs said the project is the culmination of a 10-month walking survey of more than 230 renters.
“This is a moral thing,” said Isaacs. “If you walked around with me and I showed you these places people lived, you couldn’t turn away.”
The top issues:
94-percent have had trouble finding safe, affordable housing
77-percent experienced pests or insects
67-percent have lived among mold
85-percent have dealt with a bad landlord
For Stanton, her own attempts to reach out to her landlord put her in jeopardy.
“I had called, texted,” said Stanton. “I withheld my rent to get their attention, and it did, but as an eviction notice.”
Isaacs said if the county opted into the Unified Landlord and Tenant Act, it would help to hold both parties accountable.
Isaacs said the issues is that being a rural county, Bedford doesn’t meet the minimum population for the act.
But Isaacs said the city and county are partly responsible.
“They’re turning a blind eye, and they’re focusing on bringing all new stuff to this city and forgetting everybody else,” said Isaacs.
In a statement to News 2, Shelbyville City Manager Shanna Boyette said: “City Administration did agree to take a closer look at the group’s suggestions and is in the process of doing so now.”
The city added, “such a review will require examination of jurisdictional issues, legal requirements, obstacles to enforcement, and the potential impact to staff resources and budget.”
The recommendations of the group behind the project include fully implementing the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act, and the creation of a fair housing commission focused on Shelbyville’s housing crisis.
The city tells News 2 that back in December, it sat down with members of the project to address renter concerns, but how much of them were outside what the city could regulate.
The city said this new review could take several months.
Once complete, the administration plans to report back to the mayor, city council, and the group.