DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A week after several Dallas apartment residents, including a baby, were forced to jump from the third floor of their burning building, a Dallas County judge gave the owners of the northeast Dallas apartment complex seven days to make sure all their remaining buildings are up to fire code.
In court Thursday, Dallas fire inspectors told Judge Tonya Parker they found missing smoke detectors, painted over fire sprinkler heads, and windows that were screwed shut in the still occupied buildings at the Meadows at Ferguson apartments.
Last Wednesday’s fire at the complex destroyed a three-story apartment building and displayed more than 40 people.
In September 2017, the city sued Eyal Dallas Holdings LLC, the owner of the Meadows at Ferguson apartments for dozens of code violations.
In the lawsuit, the city called the property a “hub for drug use and sales.”
City inspectors, according to the lawsuit, found “extremely dilapidated and unsanitary conditions” inside the apartments, including rodent and insect infestations, uncapped sewer connections, water leaks and absent smoke detectors.
The city cited the owners of the apartments with 64 different code violations, including 11 fire codes.
“It is the single biggest wart in my district,” said Councilman Mark Clayton.
Clayton added he is not surprised by last Wednesday’s fire.
“I’m not surprised at all,” he said. “I’m saddened. I’m especially sadden for the residence that have been taken advantage of by a slumlord but this is exactly what I thought would happen.”
Clayton said he believes the court system has been too lenient on the ownership and given them too much time to correct the code violations.
On Thursday, city attorneys requested that the judge order a mandatory evacuation of the remaining residents because of safety concerns.
The judge denied the city’s request but did insist the apartment owners immediately address any remaining fire code violations.
The attorney for the Meadows at Ferguson said the fire code violations mentioned in the lawsuit were resolved and the property cleared inspection by the fire department this past summer.
City officials told the judge Thursday each time they visit the property there are violations.
Clayton said, “If they don’t do something to improve their property, the next time a baby is dropped from a window that baby might not be caught and that’s really disheartening that we’ve got to that point.”
State records show the company’s manager as Michael Halberstam of Lakewood, New Jersey. He was not in attendance at the case summary on Thursday.
READ THE LAWSUIT HERE: