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Elk Meadows Repairs Continue; Another Inspection Set For September

Michelle Deininger

A team of county health inspectors spent August 11 visiting every single unit in the Elk Meadows complex – 106 apartments. 

Inspectors were looking for progress on a list of code violations identified last year, when the property owners applied for a business license and were denied.

Elk Meadows is the white two-story complex along Interstate 80 between Pinebrook and Kimball Junction. The apartments were built in 1993 and are classified as affordable housing. They’re owned by a Seattle-based multi-housing corporation called Security Properties.

Summit County Attorney Margaret Olson told the Summit County Council this week that fire and safety code violations had been mostly resolved, with minimal fixes still needed. She said health code violations remain a work in progress, and inspectors will head back again on September 22.

“Health Department reports that Elk Meadows has clearly made progress but concerns remain about cockroaches in one building, and mold in a handful of units," Olson said. "Health believes that Elk Meadows can still address these limited issues. And so they too will join the September 22 limited inspection to ensure these issues in the specific units and building are remediated. Management for Elk Meadows has made great strides forward but they've also benefited from several extensions of time to comply. If for some reason any of these items fail the September 22nd inspection the attorney's office plans to pursue other legal avenues for enforcement.”

Olson said the county met virtually with the property owners on August 25 to discuss what needs to happen next.

KPCW’s recent inspections of six units at the complex revealed a host of problems that do not fall under health, safety or fire codes. Deputy County Attorney Helen Strachan said issues like non-functioning appliances and broken interior doors and cupboards could constitute violations of lease terms, but the county does not monitor or enforce those.  

In many states, renters can withhold a portion of rent if something essential is broken. That’s not the case in Utah, according to a recent report by the University of Utah’s Justice Lab.

That report says that under Utah’s Fit Premises Act, landlords must maintain electrical and plumbing services, appliances and common areas in a sanitary and habitable condition. But the statute also says renters may not withhold rent even if their units are not considered habitable. Renters also can’t sue landlords for not maintaining habitable conditions or violating lease terms.

Summit County Building Inspector Richard Butz said the windows in Elk Meadows apartments – which are single pane, with corroded frames and rotten rubber seals, do not comply with current building code requirements. But they comply with 1993 building code, and Utah law does not require property owners to upgrade windows when codes change.

Elk Meadows owner, Security Properties, did not respond to requests for comment.

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