Landlord Baham “Bobby” Naderi lives in a 4,722-square-foot house with a manicured lawn in southern Denton, but his tenants in six buildings at the corner of West Oak and Fry streets are living in conditions that could lead the city to condemn and demolish the structures.
“You ask for him to fix something,” one tenant said, and “he’ll curse you out.”
Tenants report having to make their own repairs. One family uses only the stove to heat their apartment and keep children, including a newborn, warm during the winter months. There are stories of mildewed carpets.
One man told city officials that his daughter got bedbugs after staying a night at his place. A resident showed text messages with Naderi asking for fixes, with no response.
And yet, residents say Naderi never skips a beat when the rent is due.
In a college town where apartment complexes continue to pop up but people still find it difficult to land a place to rent, these apartments are the only options some residents have. But the situation has become so bad the city of Denton has threatened to shut down the properties and potentially demolish them if Naderi does not make direly needed repairs.
The Denton Health and Building Standards Commission in mid-February voted to give Naderi 90 days to fix his properties and take care of the tenants, or the buildings will be condemned and likely demolished.
That development sent Tomeka Smith, a tenant of Naderi’s for about a year, looking for a new place to stay because she and others say they do not have faith Naderi will make the proper fixes. Smith said she put down a deposit on a unit at Windsor Village apartments and was on her way to being approved — until staff there found out where she currently lives.
“Bobby set me out there for failure,” Smith said.
She said Naderi told the Windsor Village staff not to rent to her. They gave back her deposit, Smith said.
She and other residents are in the grips of a landlord who so far has failed to fix the property and city officials who may raze the apartment buildings out of sight.
Naderi was trimming the grass along his driveway Friday morning when a Denton Record-Chronicle reporter approached him with questions. Following the February commission hearing, apartment residents told the newspaper they’ve been kept in the dark about what Naderi plans to do with the properties.
Asked about his tenants’ concerns, Naderi boiled it down to this: “They’re nosy.”
He went on to say he favors a plan to demolish two of the buildings — 1232 W. Oak St. and 216 Fry St. — and fix the others. He said he has applied for the necessary permits to make the repairs.
“We’re just waiting,” Naderi said.
He also said he has received offers on the properties from prospective buyers.
“Now if the offer is on the table, we’ll see what happens,” Naderi said.
During the Denton Health and Building Standards Commission’s mid-February meeting, members heard from a city building inspector and a police officer. They recommended that the properties be shut down or be fixed within 30 days. Only when Bill Trantham, Naderi’s attorney at the time, pushed for an extension did the commission extend the timeline.
“When properties are allowed to get to this point, it’s very typical that cities have to take this type of action,” said Scott McDonald, the city’s development services director.
Trantham and Naderi sought to blame the tenants for the conditions of the apartments, but commission members insisted the buck stops with the property owner.
Dianne McConnell, a tenant of Naderi’s for less than a year, is already getting letters from law firms looking to help her with her upcoming eviction — a notice of which she has not received from Naderi or any one else.
While he stands by the commission’s decision to force the properties to adhere to code, member Glen Farris said where Naderi’s tenants will go next if the properties are condemned is a vital issue. He said rental properties in Denton are vacant for only about 2 percent of a given year.
“We have historically not built enough housing,” Farris said. “That’s what makes this so serious.”