Indy woman battling property manager over raw sewage flood and other safety issues

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- A west side woman has run out of patience with her rental home.

“I can’t even describe to you the smell,” said Tiesha Williams.

After checking every nook and cranny for the source of an odor, Williams and her boyfriend finally broke the lock to the basement she says Axiom Property Management kept locked.

“It was like, ‘Oh my God! Where’s it coming from?’” Williams remembered thinking as she opened the basement door. “It was full of feces and urine.”

Worried about what the standing water, likely with mold and bacteria from the sewage, could do to her health, Williams says she immediately called and messaged Axiom, but didn’t get a phone call back or a reply.

Williams, who has lupus and asthma, finally received an email from Axiom’s VP of Operations, Pat Hatchel, stating “there will be someone coming out tomorrow to take care of the plumbing issue.”

But Williams said no one showed up until weeks later, when a contractor showed up to fix one of the many other issues in the house she’s been bugging Axiom staff about. As a courtesy, he checked out the basement for her.

“He went downstairs,” said Williams shaking her head. “He said, ‘Oh my God! You need somebody out here bad. All that’s going to have to be ripped up.’”

Given the urgency in the contractor’s voice, Williams expected to see a worker come back soon. But she says again, no one came.

So Williams decided to reach out to the Marion County Health Department on July 26.

In an email, a spokesperson told FOX59 they inspected the house that day and issued an emergency order to take care of the sewage. An emergency order must be fulfilled within 24 hours.

According to the spokesperson, it was not, so the emergency sewage case was filed for court for non-compliance.

They also demanded other non-emergent violations be fixed, including missing and defective smoke detectors, a bathroom sink not secured to the wall, inadequate bathroom ventilation and trim in poor repair at the back of the house.

A trash order was issued on the same day as the emergency order to remove “large rubbish and junk.” On the recheck date of August 7, the inspector found additional trash violations and issued a $100 ticket for non-compliance. Crews will clean the property and bill the property owner for the costs.

Yesterday, Williams says a person finally showed up to at least unclog the drain to get rid of the sewage. But the sewage-flooded insulation and wood is still sitting there, sopping wet.

Williams also has cardboard over every vent in her home, incense burning, fans whirring and every window open to keep out the smell. She says she’s exhausted.

“This has been going on 30 days,” said Williams.

FOX59 went to Axiom’s company office near 25th and Delaware well before their listed closing time of 5 p.m. to find out why the issues haven’t been fixed.

The doors were locked and a sign was up in the window showing the space is available.

FOX59 left a voicemail with president and CEO Rob Attinger and sent an email to Hatchel. Neither responded before this story aired.

In the meantime, Wiliams says she’s living in her car because she can’t live inside her house. She’s trying to pack up what she believes can be saved.

“I’m having nose bleeds, my body is aching, my asthma is acting up,” said Williams with a tone of frustration. “I’m just all messed up right now. I’m at a loss. I don’t have anything.”

If the emergency violations aren’t fixed before the scheduled court date on Aug. 22, the case concerning the sewage will move forward.

The non-emergent violations will be rechecked by a health department inspector on Aug. 28.

If your landlord or property manager isn't fixing a hazardous health or safety issue, Marion County's health department is one of the few in the state that can order them to fix it.

Call Housing and Neighborhood Health to report an issue at 317-221-2150.