City cries foul as landlord begins dismantling building before tenants leave

CINCINNATI - The holiday season was not off to a good start for Johnny Walker.

The 50-year-old stroke victim was staying in a modest room at 814 Main Street in downtown Cincinnati when the caretaker began working outside his door.

"He brought the ceiling down," Walker said, "and there wasn't (any) light in here, and I almost fell."

The owner, Diego Boykier, wants to convert the single room occupancy building to luxury condos.

Boykier says he hopes the new Horseshoe Casino will attract upscale tenants.

In his haste, he ordered the caretaker to begin dismantling the hallway in front of Walker's room before Walker had moved out.

"You got wires hanging down," Walker said. He pointed to a exit sign hanging by wires over his doorway. "I thought that was going to fall and bust my head," he said.

Walker says he was given a notice to vacate Oct. 3, but hasn't been able to find a new place he can afford.

"I'm handicapped," he said. "I've been looking for an apartment, but if my scooter isn't charged, I can't go too far."

Walker can't get his medical scooter into the building because of the stairs. He leaves it chained up outside, hoping it won't be stolen.

City inspectors say Walker's situation is intolerable.

"We insist that these immediate hazards be dealt with," said Ed Cunningham, Division Manager for Cincinnati's Property Maintenance Code Enforcement.

He says it doesn't matter whether the occupants are being evicted or not. What matters, he says, is that they're living there now.

"There's no reason they should be dismantling a building that is occupied by, as far as we can tell, lawful tenants," said Cunningham.

Even though Walker says his rent payment was refused for the month of November because of the vacate orders, Cunningham says he has a legal right to remain until a judge makes him leave.

Of immediate concern; Boykier's company, Ladisa Investments, LLC must repair or replace the smoke detectors within 24 hours, and repair hazardous wiring, and make sure the building has heat within 48 hours.

Cunningham says he brought the issues to the owner's lawyer, Ty Foster.

"He's like, 'they're being evicted,'" Cunningham said. "He's a lawyer, and here I am explaining the owner's obligations to the landlord/tenant laws, which I shouldn't have to do."

Boykier said by phone that he was unaware of any problems with his property.

"I don't like problems with my business," he said.

The owner has to fix the problems or face possible fines and jail time according to Cunningham.

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