Columbus family’s rental home without heat, owner subject of multiple violations

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A local family in a rental home has been without heat for a week.

The city has two active housing violations against the property owner and code enforcement was back at the house Tuesday night.

The mother and her five children need to wear coats inside the home to stay warm, but said they were still cold.

According to Columbus records, the property manager has been cited for multiple violations from the city’s code enforcement department.

“We might as well be sleeping outside,” said Cheetara Peterson, the occupant of the home. “It’s cold as heck in here. It feels just like outside.”

It’s been a week since the heat inside Peterson’s home has worked.

“I opened up the oven and went and got a space heater to try to warm up,” she said.

Even with some heat, all of her children are bundled up in coats inside.

Under state law, a landlord is required to provide reasonable heat.

“I have a disabled child and I also have one under the age of 6,” Peterson said. “This is illegal.”

A thermometer gun inside the house read 36 degrees when pointed at the ground. Peterson said it’s been this way for several days.

“You can feel all the air coming through the windows,” she said. “It feels like the windows are open.”

The company that owns the home is the Wildflower LLC, which lists Jeff Ihlenfield listed as the property manager.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been more than a dozen issues found by Columbus City Code Enforcement and two active housing violations. A court case has also been filed by the city.

Code enforcement showed up Tuesday night to check the furnace in the house. They couldn’t get it to work.

“You and your kids are at home with heat while me and my kids have to suffer,” Peterson said, addressing Ihlenfield.

When reached at his home, Ihlenfield said he had no comment.

A phone call to the NBC4 newsroom at approximately 10 p.m., Ihlenfield said the state auditor’s website is inaccurate and that he no longer owns any of the properties.

According to the state auditor’s website, Ihlenfield is behind six other LLCs and owns more than 100 other properties throughout Franklin County.

Peterson said she’s taking her family to sleep somewhere else.

“I can’t keep doing this,” she said.

When asked if the property manager has been issued any housing violations at any of the other properties, Columbus officials said they would have that information Wednesday.

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