Couple says they will be evicted Delegate owns house where housing official calls for repairs

August 08, 1996|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

A Westminster couple receiving housing assistance say their landlord, Del. Nancy R. Stocksdale, is evicting them rather than making repairs the county housing office says are necessary for the couple and their 7-year-old twins to continue living in the two-bedroom duplex.

Stocksdale, a 5th District Republican, has not responded to the charges. Telephone messages left at her home and office Tuesday and yesterday were not returned.

Stocksdale was advised by the Carroll County Bureau of Housing and Community Development on July 2 that the bureau would suspend payment of the rental allowance or terminate the contact with tenants Keith and Patricia Fahnestock if the repairs were not made.

Stocksdale would be forced to make repairs to the duplex and efficiency apartment on Augusta Avenue only if her tenants receive a subsidy, rules designed to ensure that tenants don't live in substandard housing, officials said. The Fahnestocks, who pay rent of $550 a month, receive a $200 monthly subsidy.

"The rental allowance for that unit will cease at the end of 45 days," said James M. Evans, the county's housing program manager. "The family still has time to go to another unit."

Stocksdale got more than she bargained for when she asked the housing office to check the property for "insect infestation," which it did July 1.

"I found no evidence of live insects," housing inspector Robert Martin told Stocksdale in a July 2 letter, but "I did find some items that fail the Housing Quality Standards."

Among the items he listed were:

"There was evidence under the front porch that the roof leaks."

"The front porch and most of the trim and spouting has defective paint surfaces."

"Most of the spouting is loose and some is falling off."

" The railing on the front porch is loose and falling off."

"The wall on the back of the unit has stucco missing which left a hole between the blocks which could let insects in."

"A majority of the wood soffit and fascia is rotted on the back of the unit."

And although he did not find live insects, he did find "signs of dead ones in the cabinet under the sink in the kitchen," Martin said. He wrote to Stocksdale that the housing bureau would give her 45 days to get the work done because it was so "extensive."

The Fahnestocks said Tuesday they learned of Stocksdale's eviction plans when she came to pick up their rent Monday.

"She told us she cannot afford to fix up the property and that we would have to move if we were unhappy with the condition of the property," Keith Fahnestock said. "We have a month-to-month [verbal] lease. We have to move in 30 days."

Fahnestock said Stocksdale gave them two other reasons for wanting them to move: "She said she didn't want to be controlled by state regulations and she said her daughter was getting married in September and might want to move in."

The Fahnestocks said they have not been problem tenants during the nearly three years that have rented the property, but they acknowledge earlier tensions.

They said Stocksdale had not wanted to rent to them because they are not members of the Church of the Open Door, where Stocksdale is a member. They first heard about the available apartment from Patricia Fahnestock's parents, who attend the church and who had read a notice in the church bulletin, she said.

The couple initially signed a year's lease in October 1994, but went on a month-to-month basis last year when Keith Fahnestock was unemployed, he said.

He was late with a rental payment once during that time, Fahnestock said, and since then, Stocksdale has been coming by the house each month to collect the rent in cash, he said.

Fahnestock said he is "basically waiting to see something in writing" before taking steps to find new housing for his family.

"I don't believe this is right for a state leader to act this way against a struggling young family," he said. "How's it going to look if a delegate evicts a family with two children? She's got to know that as a politician, her life is an open book."

Pub Date: 8/08/96

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