DENTON -- For Melissa Vardas, the house on Morse Street seemed ideal.
“It looked like a good property for my daughter to be able to ride on and keep horses at,” Vardas said.
She now wishes she'd never seen it, or met Khosrow Sadeghian, the Denton landlord highlighted in a series of News 8 stories revealing the substandard condition of many of his properties. Denton code officials say is one of their biggest - if not the biggest - problem landlord.
Vardas signed a lease in October 2012. She tells the same story so many others have told us: He promises repairs, then doesn't do it.
Weeks and months went by and she couldn’t move in. He was still charging the monthly rent of $1,795 per month, and assessing her late fees when she didn’t pay.
Finally, she says she had to be out of her other home, so she and her family moved in late 2012, even though the house still wasn’t finished. It had only one working toilet, a shower that drained under the house, exposed air vents, live wires hanging out, and air blowing through the doors and walls, among other problems.
“He does not do what he says he’s going to do,” Vardas said.
In the five months she lived in the house, Vardas said she spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of man hours trying to make the house habitable.
But her case has a twist: Denton building officials posted this "stop work" order on the door last May. Among the issues cited:
- Electrical work done without permits.
- Air conditioning not cooling.
- Electrical devices and openings that didn't work.
- Plumbing not draining properly.
"They told me that I needed to move out, because we’re going to be pulling all the meters, because the house was never brought up to the code to begin with,” Vardas said.
When she told Sadeghian about it, he responded that “I still owed him money,” she said. She began moving her belongings out of the house and refused to pay the rent for that month.
Sadeghian took her to court, winning a $4,300 judgment.
Vardas said that during the court hearing, the judge took Sadeghian’s word for it that she owed several months rent. She said the judge did not want to see any of the paperwork she had showing that she could not possibly owe that much.
Sadeghian did not answer the phone at his Denton home.
In prior interviews with News 8, he has described himself as an “above-average landlord.” Sadeghian, who specializes in leasing to those with bad credit, blames tenants for the issues he's having.
“When they fall behind or what have you, then we have to [give renters] bad news, 'Oh, he’s kicking me out,' and that’s the problem,” Sadeghian said. “It’s not really us that does it. I want everybody in my properties to enjoy it as if I was wanting to enjoy it.”
Since 2008, Denton code officials have worked 11 dangerous building cases involving Sadeghian properties. Sadeghian demolished seven of the buildings. He repaired two of the structures.
On Thursday, Sadeghian appeared before Denton’s Health and Building Standards Commission in connection with another property recently cited by News 8. The commission ordered Sadeghian to either repair or demolish the property within 90 days.
In that case, the tenants called code enforcement last fall after they became concerned that the home was not safe to live in.
Code officials found a litany of problems, including exposed wiring, a leaking roof in danger of collapse, a drain leaking raw sewage into a storm drain, an electrified medicine cabinet, and an unsafe electrical panel. The tenants, Robin and Floyd Williams, were told that they had to move out.
They say that Sadeghian refused to return their deposit money and told them that they owed him money. Months later, they are destitute and still living in a Denton motel room, unable to to come up with the funds to move elsewhere.
In another interview with News 8, Sadeghian said the tenant had “damaged that property and walked away from it. When people don’t [...] pay for two or three months, then they call code.”
Denton code officials strongly disagreed with Sadeghian’s contention.
Many cities have rental inspection programs to help protect tenants from falling into these types of situations. Denton is not among those cities.
More than a year later, the Morse Street house is still empty, the utilities are still off, and no permits have been obtained.