Caretakers for a property owned by a deceased Oxford man missed a Covington hearing last month for failing to secure a vacant property.
A. W. Jackson was cited for building code violations, however, Jackson is deceased. No relative or property caretaker appeared at a Covington municipal court hearing Jan. 18, meaning city officials will file a court order to have the house boarded up.
"No one appeared on Mr. Jackson's behalf," said Stephanie Finnie, the clerk of Covington municipal court.
At least nine properties around Newton County - five in Porterdale, three in Oxford and one in Covington - are listed as owned by Jackson.
Covington's code enforcement office cited the owner for two code violations on the vacant Sockwell Avenue property, Jim Berry, code enforcement officer, said. Covington may hire a contractor to secure the home and put a lien on the property for the costs.
A court order will be sought to allow the city to hire a contractor to board the house up. Once the order is secured, which could take a week, the city will hire an appraiser and seek a contractor's bid to do the work. The contractor will do the work, and a lien for the cost of the job will be attached to the property's title.
"It will have to be paid before the title can be transferred," Berry said.
The property, at 3130 Sockwell Avenue, is vacant and has not been repaired to code and has been deemed unfit for habitation, according to a municipal court complaint.
Covington officials have been attempting to serve papers on Jackson's son Curtis, of Oxford.
Curtis Jackson was also cited for 10 code violations in Porterdale in November. His hearing on the citations was continued until Feb. 27. Porterdale Police Chief Geoff Jacobs said Curtis Jackson has denied being the owner of the property, on 9 Spruce St. and listed as owned by A. W. Jackson, though Jacobs said Curtis Jackson has collected rent from the tenant.
Brandy Jackson, who said she owns the properties, said neither she or Curtis would comment.
Fully 65 percent of Porterdale's housing stock is rental, city officials have said.
Stephen Morris and his wife own two properties on Elm Street they keep neat. They fixed them both up before renting them out, and have had stable tenants for three years in one house and more than two years in the other, he said.
While he did not want to point out any specific landlords or properties, he said many of the houses in Porterdale could use fixing up.
"The people who rent are in a rock and a hard place," Morris said. "In order to rent an apartment, you have to have good credit and a checking account. If you don't have good credit you go to poor areas and pay whatever you want to charge them."
Morris, who has started attending Porterdale City Council meetings with his wife, said the city has been helpful when he and his wife were remodeling and commended the city government for being proactive.
"I think Porterdale has a long way to go, but as far as the government goes there, I think they have the right idea. Changes take awhile."
Porterdale has been more aggressive in code enforcement in the last few months, with actions ranging from calls to ask issues to be addressed to actual citations and court actions, as with the Jackson property.
"He (Jackson) owns maybe half a dozen to dozen properties in Porterdale," Jacobs said. "We have at least one other that is under inspection at the moment we're working on."