MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A landlord who continued to lease an East Memphis property that city code enforcement officials declared unfit for habitation is a former $1 million winner at one of the Mississippi casinos.
According to property records, KC Rental Properties LLC of Robinsonville, Mississippi, owns the house at 3253 Nathan Avenue. Heather Miller-Tyner produced cash receipts that indicated she paid a $1,200 down payment toward a lease on the home.
Miller-Tyner moved in November 6, but had to vacate the house a week later when a Memphis city code enforcement inspector declared the property a "dangerous building," posting signs to "KEEP OUT" and "THIS DWELLING IS UNFIT FOR HUMAN HABITATION -- MUST NOT BE OCCUPIED."
"There's a lot of interior leaks going on. There's mold inside the house," said Memphis Code Enforcement Inspector Kevin Boone. "And that right there is against housing codes."
"I feel very betrayed," Miller-Tyner said. "The landlord met me out here after church, showed me the property. It appeared fine. She told me the damages around the property were minor. They don't sound minor to me. She left a lot out."
The landlord is Karen Christian, the "KC" in KC Rental Properties. In a search of the WMC Action News 5 story archives, we discovered Christian won a $1 million drawing at Tunica, Mississippi's Horseshoe Casino in 2013.
"It is truly a blessing, and I believe it was just meant for me," Christian beamed on camera as she held the $1 million check.
Now Memphis Public Works Division Director Robert Knecht describes Christian as a problem landlord on a first-name basis with his code inspectors.
"She has not done what we have asked of her (in repairing her property)," Knecht said. "(Christian) was aware of the conditions of the property," Boone added.
If Miller-Tyner had clicked on the city's 311 iTracker tool before signing the lease along with her down payment, she would have discovered Knecht and his inspector have been investigating the property for months, citing Christian for continually failing to make repairs.
"As of now, the repairs haven't been made," said Boone. "She is not going to get it occupied until it is fully approved by code enforcement going forward."
"If (Miller-Tyner) has used the 311 app, she would have at least been educated and know that there's been substandard conditions (at the house) that have been identified," Knecht said.
"Wow. That would have been nice to know," reacted Miller-Tyner. "I would have never put any money down on the house. Very misleading."
Unlike four years ago as she brandished her big check, Christian declined an on-camera interview regarding her rental property. She acknowledged code enforcement's months of citations, but she said until last month, code inspectors never ordered her to keep the house unoccupied until she made repairs.
"That's on code (enforcement), not me," she said in a text. "I have done my part. I will continue to do the repairs and reopen the house when code approves. I have done right and will continue to repair the house including to code standards."
When we told her Miller-Tyner said she misled Miller-Tyner into signing a lease, Christian responded by email, in all caps: "THE FACT IS I HAVE SPENT $500,000 ON INVESTMENTS SINCE 2013 AND HELPED MORE PEOPLE WITH A PLACE TO LIVE THAT WERE HOMELESS WORKING PEOPLE THAT SIMPLY JUST NEEDED A SECOND CHANCE. I WAS THE ONE THAT STUCK MY HEAD OUT THERE AND HELPED, BLACK AND WHITE PEOPLE!!"
A receipt showed Christian eventually paid Miller-Tyner back $625 of her $1,200 down payment. Christian kept the rest, saying Miller-Tyner agreed to that via text. Miller-Tyner disputed there ever was such an agreement.
If you're looking to rent a property within the Memphis city limits, run its address through the city's 311 iTracker, either the desktop version or through the city's 311 app as featured in this WMC Action News 5 story. It will indicate if there have been any code enforcement actions at the location.