City, seller, and realtor take no responsibility in demolition conundrum

RICHMOND, Va.  — A Richmond woman buys a property on June 13th, only to have it partially demolished by the City on June 20.

Now, no one is claiming responsibility.

The property is located at 1301 North 30th street in Richmond.

Shahida Sohail and her husband purchased the property as a rental investment. Sohail was headed to meet her cleaners at the home on Sunday when they called her to let her know half of her new home was gone.

“I am going to fight right now — everyone!” said Sohail.

Sohail said she bought the property, knowing it was condemned, but never had any knowledge of a pending demolition.

First the city denied they had done anything wrong. Then Wednesday the seller, Pearl Townes said she knew nothing.

The City of Richmond has consistently said the Townes did know about the demolition, and they pointed to a certified letter sent in May, as well as court documents that show Townes was in court to discuss the property at the end of April.

Townes’ realtor,  Ralph L. Samuels and Associates, also denied any wrongdoing.

The firm issued CBS 6 the following statement by Attorney John Taylor III.

“We have reviewed the contract and believe we have satisfied the obligations contained therein. We are not responsible for any action taken by the City of Richmond or its agents. Our company and the seller disclosed to the purchaser, the information we were aware of from the City of Richmond. The Purchase Agreement contains information about the condemnation notice and the purchaser was given the condemnation notice that was received by the seller from the City of Richmond. Furthermore, we never received a Notice of Demolition.”

The timeline of events

  • November 2012 – City first begins investigation into property.
  • January 2014 – City issues misdemeanor offense to Townes family.
  • April 2014 – Court case continued.
  • May 1st – City issues imminent danger notice and alert Townes of demolition.
  • June 16th – Demolition permit issued.
  • June 20th – Demolition completely.

While the city acknowledges the Sohails closed on the property on June 13th, they reiterated to CBS 6 that court records did not update until after the demolition permit was issued.

“Once we reach an imminent danger situation there is a great need to protect the public health and safety,” John Walsh, operations Manager with City of Richmond, said.

The Sohails continue to say they will not pay for the cost of demolition. They also told CBS 6 they are in need of legal help since most of their savings is currently tight up in the property.

Sohail may be still be liable for paying the demolition cost of over $8,000 dollars.

Mike Wallace, a spokesman with the City, had previously said demolition expenses would be covered by the city but following the meeting it became unclear.

Sohail said that she has requested a meeting with Mayor Dwight Jones but has not heard back.

 



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