Tenants ready to leave homes needing repairs

WILTON – Several tenants in an apartment building scheduled to be condemned Monday are preparing to move out, despite promises from their landlord that the building will be repaired.

In early October, town health inspector Rise Smyth-Freed issued an order to vacate all the apartments in the building at 30 Forest St. by Monday, because of a litany of maintenance issues. At the time, about 16 people lived in the 12-unit building, which is next to Wilton House of Pizza.

On Oct. 10, landlord Paul Schaefer, of Colby Street Realty in Brookline, sent a memo to the tenants saying they wouldn’t have to move out because he would complete the work on deadline. However, several tenants said Sunday that they either don’t believe Schaefer will get the work done or don’t want to take a chance.

Tenant Ryan Shepard and his family will probably move to Milford.

“God knows what’s happening with the situation,” said Shepard. “We’re moving out.”

The tenants’ rush to leave has caused money problems for Schaefer, according to a memo he sent to the town and The Cabinet.

“Tenants are now moving out and stop-orders placed on rent checks. Prospective tenants are not able to move in to perfectly good units. This revenue is needed to keep utilities, mortgage and repairs current,” wrote Schaefer, who said he has hired a plumber and an electrician to do the repairs.

In the memo, Schaefer states he may need an extension.

He also writes that he’d like the selectmen to revoke the condemnation because of “gross exaggeration of the health officer’s report.”

Selectmen have recommended that tenants withhold rent and put the money in escrow until the repairs are made.

“I have lost revenues due to town official comments during a town meeting,” wrote Schaefer. “I have tenants that were happy and never complain move out because of the units being condemned.”

Town officials said previously that the problems with the building have been ongoing and the vacate order was a last resort. Selectmen last week declined to extend the Nov. 3 deadline.