TOWNSEND -- The list of tenant complaints investigated by the Board of Health and Fire Department is long. Town officials have confirmed reports of no heat, plumbing problems, electrical problems, broken appliances, nonlocking doors, holes in the walls, no smoke or carbon monoxide detectors and the presence of cockroaches.
"I get at least one call a week from a tenant over there," said Rick Metcalf, Nashoba Associated Boards of Health sanitarian. He and/or the Fire Department investigates each complaint at the Pine Ridge Condominiums, a partially occupied five-building, 120-unit complex on Fitchburg Road.
Some of the violations have been outstanding since 2009. "They do fix some things," Metcalf said.
One tenant, who did not want her name used, said she called the Board of Health out of desperation a year ago.
"I've had to put money to replace the tub surround" and repair other plumbing issues, she said. Once, the faucet broke over the weekend and the phone number for emergencies belonged to someone the owners had fired. "It just busted up like a geyser. It's really a nightmare," she said.
"They did come yesterday. They did fix quite a few of the issues," she said on Feb. 8. Some of her electrical outlets are still not working though. She has lived in the complex over four years.
The owners, the Pine Ridge Condominium Association, have made other repairs. The doors to the laundry room have been replaced. One of the buildings has a new septic system, Metcalf said. Some of the other systems are in failure and have backed up.
The tenant said she once saw workers removing garbage bags full of sludge and tampons from a ground floor unit. "We went over there and called the Board of Health," she said, "The bottom floor apartments have a lot of mold."
The buildings are over 40 years old. Metcalf said the security systems are outdated. The locks on the main doors require a landline phone to work, but many tenants only have a cellphone which means they cannot buzz visitors in. Water temperature varies, even within units.
Some of the units lacking smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have been rehabbed. The owners pulled permits to do work in 10 or 12 apartments, but have not called to have an inspection done for an occupancy permit, said Building Inspector Rich Hanks. No permits have been pulled for work on heating or hot water systems.
"The Fire Department is writing them up. It would be a mirror image of what I'd write up," Hanks said.
Landlords are required to keep the building in good structural repair, and have been written up for large cracks in walls, Metcalf said. He has found no problem with rubbish disposal, lead paint or water quality.
The Board of Health decided to pursue the violations in court during their meeting on Jan. 31.
There was no response to phone messages left at the number provided for the manager's office at the complex.