Raw Sewage in Your Apartment: Repairs Your Landlord Can't Ignore

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There are lots of crappy situations you can run into when you're living in multi-unit housing. Loud neighbors in the apartment next door can keep you up at night or, if they're smokers, you might breathe secondhand smoke wafting in from their place. But we can't think of anything crappier -- literally -- than your apartment filling up with raw sewage.

That's what Jocelyn Shepherd is dealing with. When she moved into her Atlanta apartment, she was immediately hit with several problems. The first was an issue with running water. When that was seemingly fixed, an even worse problem arose: Feces began to seep from the toilet and sink -- and even from the walls and floors of her home, Shepherd told WXIA-TV in Atlanta. Shepherd's home is so flooded with human waste that it even runs into her neighbor's apartment.


WARNING: The images and video below may be disturbing to some people.


Raw sewage in Jocelyn Shepherd's apartment

"My bathroom is just full of everybody's feces. The tub, filled with feces. There's mildew, mold coming down the wall," Shepherd said.

Shepherd (pictured below) lives in the apartment with her fiance and three children, one of whom is only 3 months old. The situation has forced the children to stay with family and friends, but Shepherd has stayed put. She hasn't paid rent since November because of the unsanitary living conditions. According to WXIA, the building's property manager said that she stopped trying to fix the problem in Shepherd's apartment once Shepherd stopped paying rent.

Jocelyn Shepherd has raw sewage in her apartment.
"They don't even want to come in and see what's wrong," Shepherd said.

This raises the question: Doesn't Shepherd's landlord have to fix this problem? All tenants of apartment buildings have the right to a habitable living space, and landlords are required by law to fix problems that affect habitability -- many of which could be violations of building and housing codes. Landlords who don't comply by keeping their property habitable can face law enforcement action, including fines and/or jail time. Depending on state law, tenants who find themselves in a situation like Shepherd's have the right to withhold rent until the problem is fixed, or even end a lease agreement and move out without paying the full term of the agreement.

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Scary Home-Inspection Surprises
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Raw Sewage in Your Apartment: Repairs Your Landlord Can't Ignore

Homeowners do the damnedest things, and thank goodness for home inspectors -- they're there to catch all the fun on camera! Here, we bring you some of the craziest things home inspectors have seen on the job. Please don't try this at home!

“You can’t see me, you can’t see me.” I found this raccoon in a chimney when I opened the outside clean-out door. Yes, I lost the staring competition.

William Vicaire
Discovery Home Inspection
Leominster, Mass.


Photo: Courtesy of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)

See even worse home inspection nightmares here.

Most people use a piece of wood or metal pipe to help secure the sliding glass doors, but this was a first for me. Yes, those are Bud Light and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans. I think a thief breaking in would stop and drink these or take them with him.

Rick A. Harrington
Patch Independent Home Inspections, LLC
Pickerington, Ohio


Photo: Courtesy of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)

See even worse home inspection nightmares here.

I call this one “plumbers and electricians should just learn to get along.” This drain-pipe fitting prevented full opening of the fuse box. Apparently, the plumber decided that no one would ever need to access these fuses, though they were connected to the water heater and were in use.

Matthew Steger
WIN Home Inspection -- Elizabethtown
Elizabethtown, Pa.


Photo: Courtesy of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)

See even worse home inspection nightmares here.

This is not Photoshopped. I wasn’t sure which code applied to this scenario. Do you use the 2000 code since the house was built in 2002, or the 1955 code since the car was a 1957 or 1958?

Lamar Rase
Complete Home Inspections, Inc.
Missoula, Mont.


Photo: Courtesy of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)

See even worse home inspection nightmares here.

The inside of the car was set to be used as part of a home theater. I’ve seen this in Disney World, but never in a house.

Lamar Rase
Complete Home Inspections, Inc.
Missoula, Mont.


Photo: Courtesy of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)

See even worse home inspection nightmares here.

This is a functioning door on the second story of a home with no staircase. Do you need a handrail if there is only one (20-foot) step?

Wally Shank
Mid Penn Home Inspections
Carlisle, Pa.


Photo: Courtesy of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)

See even worse home inspection nightmares here.

Why would anyone want a new-construction inspection? Because, evidently, plumbers and carpenters don’t communicate! This photo shows the basement rough-in for the toilet -- IN the stairwell.

Charlie Yates
WIN Home Inspection Crown Point
Crown Point, Ind.


Photo: Courtesy of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)

See even worse home inspection nightmares here.

This one, I suppose, is for the basement wet-bar sink drain -- UNDER the stairwell!

Charlie Yates
WIN Home Inspection - Crown Point
Crown Point, Ind.


Photo: Courtesy of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)

See even worse home inspection nightmares here.

Dryer ventilation: sexy AND functional.

Charles “Chap” Fichera
Ceilings 2 Cellars Home Inspections, LLC
Green Lane, Pa.


Photo: Courtesy of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)

See even worse home inspection nightmares here.

Aren’t you supposed to take the instructions out of the furnace before starting it up?

Bruce Barker
Dream Home Consultants
Peoria, Ariz.


Photo: Courtesy of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)

See even worse home inspection nightmares here.

It’s good that we don’t use furnaces too often in Phoenix.

Bruce Barker
Dream Home Consultants
Peoria, Ariz.


Photo: Courtesy of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)

See even worse home inspection nightmares here.

I found this recently in Houston. I guess the owners were more worried about being ready for a hurricane (see the generator) than about blowing up the house.

Robert J.P. Goodspeed
Goodspeed Inspection Services, Inc.
Missouri City, Texas


Photo: Courtesy of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)

See even worse home inspection nightmares here.

Talk about water hammer.

David Grudzinski
Advantage Home Inspections
Cranston, R.I.


Photo: Courtesy of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)

See even worse home inspection nightmares here.

“Honey, I took care of that pesky leak before the home inspector showed up!”

Mario Lucciola
All Spec Building Inspections
St. Catharines, Ontario


Photo: Courtesy of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)

See even worse home inspection nightmares here.

This wiring controls a vanity light. The switch box is a Cain’s mayonnaise lid. Maybe he used mayo instead of shaving cream?

Tim Rooney
Homeview Property Inspections
Exeter, N.H.


Photo: Courtesy of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)

See even worse home inspection nightmares here.

The water meter’s last words: “Help, I think I fell in quicksand.”

David Grudzinski
Advantage Home Inspections
Cranston, R.I.


Photo: Courtesy of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)

See even worse home inspection nightmares here.

Just a minor water leak or a Roman candle? You decide! I was told by the real estate agent prior to the inspection that there was some water on the floor in the basement. The water was actually home-heating oil. Notice the red sheen of the “water!”

Michael J. Ashburn
Ashburn Inspections
Murrysville, Pa.


Photo: Courtesy of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)

See even worse home inspection nightmares here.

This is a 4-inch drain pipe running through an air return duct. I don’t know who got there first, the plumber or the HVAC guy.

Frank Turner
Turner Home Inspection Services
Beaufort, S.C.


Photo: Courtesy of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)

See even worse home inspection nightmares here.

This rat ate so much while in the main fuse box that when it came time to get out, he needed help by placing his feet on the terminals. OUCH! Be careful opening electrical panels for many reasons other than the obvious!

Duane Serrano
Tri-Star Inspection Services
Campbell, Calif.


Photo: Courtesy of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)

See even worse home inspection nightmares here.

This 5-foot black snake was rather upset about being disturbed. He is a perfect example of why all openings in an electrical panel should be sealed. The snake was removed and released unharmed.

Bob Sisson
Inspections by Bob
Boyds, Md.


Photo: Courtesy of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)

See even worse home inspection nightmares here.

Paris has the Louvre, Washington has the Smithsonian and now home inspectors have the Crawlspace. This “creative” pier may win a modern art design, but not a structural engineering award.

David Haught
Certified Home Inspectors
Huntington, W.V.


Photo: Courtesy of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)

See even worse home inspection nightmares here.

I found this old sandal wedged between the leaking oil tank and a car jack used as a plug. Sand was across the floor to absorb the oil. The odor of oil extended up into the house. Not a good sign. Carjacking takes on a different meaning.

JD Grewell
J.D. Grewell & Associates, Inc.
Silver Spring, Md.


Photo: Courtesy of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)

See even worse home inspection nightmares here.

When recommending that bathroom vent fans be connected to an exterior vent, perhaps we should be clear that the exterior vent should actually be installed on the exterior.

Robert Wittenberg
HomeFront Inspection
Renton, Wash.


Photo: Courtesy of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)

See even worse home inspection nightmares here.

I think this water heater needs replacing.

Joe Lengel
Advantage Home Services, Inc.
Garrettsville, Ohio


Photo: Courtesy of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)

See even worse home inspection nightmares here.

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For Shepherd, her family was recently offered a temporary place to stay, but she says that they have no money for a permanent home. They have no furniture, either: Everything they had was saturated by sewage.

The City of Atlanta told WXIA that it has done "all that it can." Code enforcement officers cited the property owner three times in 2011, and have issued a brand new batch of citations for the sewage and other building safety issues.



See also:
Black Ice: Are You Responsible for Keeping It Off Your Property?

Landlord From Hell Bans Pork, Long Showers, Overnight Guests
Landlord Spied With Hidden Cameras on Renters, Lawsuit Claims

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