Court date set in Grainger County landlord-tenant dispute

Investigations

A landlord in Grainger County will be heading back to court in two weeks on a felony charge and one of his tenants will also be in court. The landlord is suing her for $10,000.

When the mobile home you rent is without heat and water, the landlord, by law, is required to make repairs quickly. That didn’t happen in mid-November for either Christy DeLong or Christina Yarbrough. 

Months later, Yarbrough and her husband continue to live without utilities in their mobile home. The meter to their electric box was pulled in mid-December after the state fire marshal cited the landlord for seven violations the month before.

Previous storyGrainger County families without power, water for weeks

Several loose electrical outlets remain unrepaired and a hole near the bathroom ceiling light hasn’t been fixed either.

“Anytime it rains water just gushes down into this bathroom,” said Yarbrough. “We still have no power to the unit. We still have no heat in the unit. We still have no ground faults.”

Yarborough’s landlord is Dwight Collins. He owns and rents several mobile homes in Blaine. On January 2, Collins sued Yarbrough for nearly $10,000 for back rent and fees. In the lawsuit, he wants the Yarbroughs to pay for the electrical repairs. 

She moved into the home in late October and paid a deposit and first month’s rent. She and her husband had to buy wood to heat the trailer and for two months, she used her own generator for power, which the landlord apparently didn’t like.

Yarbrough said Collins cut the electrical cord running to the house with an ax, even though there was a police officer present who said he couldn’t do it because the tenants weren’t home. Yarbrough filed a felony vandalism charge on December 29 against Collins.

Collins pleaded not guilty last week in Grainger County court. He did not want to make a comment to WATE 6 On Your Side at that time. The civil suit he issued against Yarbrough will be heard on the same day as his criminal case – February 15.

“Ten thousand dollars I find kind of funny, seeing how we moved in there November 1 and our rent is $850,” said Yarbrough.

Collins recently listed Yarbrough’s mobile home for rent on Craigslist. She is still staying in the home but is looking for a new place. She wonders, however, if Collins will repair the leaky and moldy crack in the ceiling to her double-wide which had not been repaired when she moved in. 

Collins also listed for lease the trailer that Christy DeLong rented until a month ago. For two months, she had no water after the state cited health violations. DeLong had no electricity either after the fire marshal found dangerous safety problems. 

Then last week, workers, apparently hired by the landlord, started repairing the electrical issues to the trailer DeLong once rented.

“Looks like they have moved the power pole back toward the house closer. That was one of the things that was a safety code violation,” DeLong said.

DeLong moved out weeks ago.

“I’m relieved. It’s so much less stress,” she said.

“My hope is that the judge sees the eviction he filed against us as just a form of retaliation and just throws it out,” said Yarbrough.

Collins said earlier in the month that he’s done nothing wrong and only wants the rent he’s owed. He said he tacked on nearly $8,000 in fees to Yarbrough’s bill because of the animals she owns, which include a couple of dogs and cats, plus a few chickens.

According to the landlord-tenant law, renters are supposed to be provided essential utilities like water and electricity. 

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