The landlord at a soon-to-be-shuttered apartment complex is now facing criminal charges for not keeping the building up to code.
Salt Lake City prosecutors slapped Carol Lunt with more than a dozen class B misdemeanor charges Friday, alleging in court papers that the Georgia Apartments, near 200 East and 2100 South, was in violation of numerous International Fire Code (IFC) regulations during two inspections in December and January.
In total, Lunt is facing 15 misdemeanor charges for issues such as smoke alarms that don’t work, outdated electric wiring and sprinkler pipes that were not up to code.
A class B misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
“Every individual and family has a right to live in a safe environment,” District Attorney Sim Gill said in a statement Friday. “When people are put at risk by those responsible to ensure basic standards of safety, we have an obligation to hold them accountable.”
The Georgia Apartments were “red flagged” this week after fire officials feared the complex was unsafe for residents.
Originally, the city’s fire marshal had given residents 72 hours to leave, with a deadline set for Thursday. That has been extended to Saturday at noon, city spokesman Matthew Rojas said, though firefighters will remain at the complex 24 hours a day in case a blaze does ignite.
The city is comfortable with the extension, the spokesman added, because residents in 30 of the 31 occupied units have spoken with social workers about their plans to move out; 24 of those units have immediate housing already secured. The remaining six are still working it out but are not expected to become homeless.
The complex has faced complaints — for garbage piling up, a lack of hot water and drug paraphernalia found around the property — from residents since at least January 2018, according to health department inspection reports. But in each case, the landlord addressed the issue, until more recently.
Charging documents allege that fire officials have been working with Lunt since last August about the needed repairs, but they were never completed.
In the past month, investigators found that the fire escapes had not been certified as often as required and that exits were blocked by debris. The heating system didn’t work and the smoke detectors were broken and the wiring wasn’t up to city standards. Lunt also owes an unrelated $13,000 in delinquent fees to the city.