Recently we published a report on the living conditions of Radford Companies’ tenants. We did so anonymously to protect the identity of the Sherman family and prevent retaliation from the slumlord. Yet Radford Companies property manager Tina managed to identify them:
Letting the public know how Radford Companies treat their tenants seemed to have the desired effect of getting repairs for the Sherman family, but actually Radford Companies decided they would show how they treat tenants who speak out against horrible living conditions and evict them. We interviewed the Sherman family about the situation:
New River Tenants Union: How long have you been tenants with Radford Company Inc?
The Shermans: 3 years
NRTU: Recently we publicized how bad Radford Co let your home deteriorate, was it always this bad when you were tenants?
The Shermans: When we first moved in there were roaches, we complained about it, but they told us to try to deal with it ourselves and they said they would do something after and they never did, the carpet was trashed from the beginning, we didn’t even have a refrigerator when we first moved in, we’ve never had working smoke detectors in our home, and within the first week our oven caught fire from faulty wiring. What we were coming from was actually worse than what we moved into.
NRTU: We had been working with your family to get repairs for your home, after we publicized the unsafe conditions it seemed to cause Radford Co to do the right thing and fix the problems in your home, but that isn’t what ended up happening is it?
The Shermans: No
NRTU: Could you describe what happened as Radford Co started making repairs to your home?
The Shermans: They showed up the following Saturday morning, maintenance person, property manager and assistant property manager, they started interrogating us, asking us why we didn’t come to them to ask for repairs, but they knew about all these issues already, they claimed we caused them more problems than any other tenants they have ever had, they even asked us where the plywood over the holes in our floor came from when the manager was the one who told maintenance workers to put them there.
They asked if there was anywhere else we could go, we said we could get a hotel and they said “good, you cant be here when we are treating the unit with chemicals” they even were encouraging us to rent-to-own all the way up to when we finally found out we were evicted.
NRTU: So they gave you the impression they were doing repairs while they had you stay at a hotel until they were finished treating your home?
The Shermans: Mhm, the first time we had to leave we left for two days and then came back after that. They fixed the hallway, the holes were still in the floor in the kitchen, the fridge was still sinking into the floor, they only sprayed for mold and fungus. A few weeks later they came back and told us we had to go so they could finish the rest of the repairs.
NRTU: When did you know something wasn’t adding up? When did you find out Radford Co had been lying to your family this whole time and really they were just evicting you?
Anthony: We would go to our home almost everyday, and then we noticed the electricity was cut off. Tuesday Sept. 18th we came back to pick stuff up and the door was locked, – which was strange because it was never locked and we didn’t even have a key to our home for over 2 years, we didn’t even have a mailbox key and had to use a credit card or butter knife to pry open the mailbox to get our mail – that was the last time we were in there, our stuff was still in there, but when we talked to the manager they claimed they threw away all of our stuff away over a month ago.
We even had gone to get the electricity back on and planned to move back in on that following Thursday and they told us they needed two more days to spray for mold, and then Tiffany went back that Sunday, Sept 23rd to find all of our stuff had been thrown away, we thought they even threw away my mothers ashes
NRTU: That must have been very painful, prior to this you said the property manager Tina had been nice and helpful to you all, why do you think there was such a change in attitude?
Anthony: I dont know, we always heard from our neighbors that she treated people like shit, she was never like that towards us, we were appreciative of her , she was even like a mother figure to us, especially after losing my mother
NRTU: So you think their actions were retaliation for you speaking out about how bad your living conditions had become?
Tiffany: I think so, she now says we are banned from the property and I still have extended family living over there, why would we be banned from the property?
NRTU: Were you all ever served an eviction notice from the Sheriff? Why wasn’t there a notice in your mailbox or posted on your door or in your home?
Anthony: No, but we called the sheriffs office and they said they did, I never ever signed for anything, I was confused because of all that, I’m still waiting on a copy for the eviction notice
Tiffany: I work all the time so I cant keep up with all these things, we are good friends with our neighbors and no one ever said anything to us about seeing someone deliver a notice
NRTU: Tiffany you work more than 40 hours per week, how difficult has it been dealing with all this on top of having such a heavy workload and taking care of your kids?
Tiffany: I work more than 40 hours at one job and I also janitor at my church, but now they don’t pay us anymore cause they are having financial difficulties, it’s more difficult for Anthony raising the kids, doing the cooking and the cleaning, it’s just hard working at my daycare having to put a smile on my face not knowing where me and my kids are gonna go at night
Anthony: If she gets annoyed that automatically annoys me, when shes flustered or frustrated, I hate the fact I can’t give my family a permanent place, or wonder that I did something to make this happen, I take this to heart, I don’t like to see her cry, my kids are tired of being in one room, and they have to stay inside because other people complain at the hotel. They arn’t use to being this cramped up, but we are making due and we got a plan. All we can do is stick together. Its taken a toll on all of us mentally and physically
NRTU: So what are your plans? Do you have any leads on finding a new home?
Anthony: Well we are gonna go stay with Tiffany’s mom, I guess just save up money until we can have enough to purchase a trailer or find another place. It seems the only way around here you can get a second chance is if you have a criminal record and we have no criminal record.
NRTU: Do you think there is good, affordable housing for working class people in the New River Valley?
Anthony: Hell no! Theres no affordable housing around here
Tiffany: We try to help ourselves, but when we try to get help they tell us we make too much
NRTU: What would you like to tell the community about this issue?
Tiffany: If you are going through problems with housing, make sure to document things, put it writing, take pictures, don’t rely on the landlord’s word, in the end of the day they are just out for themselves
Anthony: Cover your own ass, make sure you document everything, that way you arn’t sitting there like assed out. Just cause someone is friendly doesn’t mean they are trustworthy, that’s a bad way to live having to look over your back 24/7, but we have no choice, especially when it comes to the kids we have to make sure they are taken care of
NRTU: What do you think is the answer to prevent such a terrible experience from happening to any other working family again?
Anthony: Join the tenants union! That way you are aware of these slumlords, if you get into this situation you can go to the tenants union as a resource to know these are bad landlords, and cover your ass
NRTU: Would you like to say anything else?
Tiffany: I think one thing that has really kept us together is our faith, I think God took us out of that situation. If we didn’t have faith we wouldn’t have the strength and support we have right now through the tenants union and our family. I think God brought us here so we can be a positive force so others can learn from our situation and make things better for everyone.