Landlord spends night in jail for not providing water service

City tenant went without utility for days at a time

January 25, 2002|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore landlord was fined $500 and spent a night in jail after being convicted in District Court of twice leaving his East Baltimore tenant without water service.

Judge Nathan Braverman sentenced Wilson Guyton to 10 days in jail this week, suspending all but one, and telling the landlord he is "despicable," according to prosecutors.

This case is an "egregious" example of bad landlords, said Julie Day, deputy director of Baltimore's Department of Housing and Community Development code enforcement legal section.

About once a year, a landlord is convicted of an offense serious enough to result in a jail sentence, she said.

Guyton rented his three-bedroom rowhouse at 2117 Sinclair Lane to Cynthia Ware and her four children in March for $500 a month. Ware said the move was "a dream come true," because she had been living in a hotel on Reisterstown Road for $45 a night.

A prosecutor said problems started in April when Guyton turned off Ware's water service for unknown reasons. She went without water for seven days, relying on neighbors to give her water.

In September, water from the second floor bathroom caused the kitchen ceiling to collapse, and the Fire Department shut off her water and electricity. Guyton did not repair the property for almost two weeks, during which time the Wares did not have water or electric service, a prosecutor said.

Ware, 45, filed a misdemeanor criminal charge against Guyton, 63, for not providing essential services.

Guyton said he always fixed problems at the house and doesn't understand why he had to spend Wednesday night in jail.

"You try to help people and they do things like this to you," Guyton said. "I gave her and her four kids a place to stay with a stove and a Frigidaire. I did nothing to them. She put me in jail. "

Guyton, who lives at 2522 Madison St., did not have any previous convictions in housing court.

Ware, who still lives in the house with her children, ages 10 to 20, said she is looking for a new home.

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