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2 Hartselle families left without water in eviction dispute

By Ronnie Thomas
rthomas@decaturdaily.com · 340-2438

HARTSELLE — Water is an essential part of life. But since Wednesday two families have been without it at their mobile homes on Tall Pine Road, east of Hartselle.

Beth Hollaway, 40, lives at lot 54-C with her daughter, Keili Perkins, 9, a second-grader at Priceville Elementary School, and Hollaway's boyfriend, Wade Owens.

Ray Hughes, 51, a gravedigger, lives at lot 54-D with his mother, retired gravedigger Zelma Cheatham, 79, and her brother, Cleve Barnett, 78.

Charles Lewis Frazier, 37, a roofer, lives at 569 Natural Bridge Road in front of Hollaway and Hughes with his wife, Shanda, and daughter, Whitney, 11.

Frazier owns the lots. He asked the Northeast Morgan County Water and Sewer Authority to turn off the water to Hollaway and Hughes.

Then he asked the Morgan County Sheriff's Department to serve eviction notices on both. Hollaway said she got hers Thursday. Hughes said he got his Monday.

Frazier said he is seeking their evictions from the lots he bought about six months ago because of "trashy yards and loud music."

As for the loud music, Hughes said, "I don't even own a radio or stereo."

Bobby Taylor, general manager of Northeast Morgan County Water and Sewer Authority, said the meter that supplies water to both lots and the water service have been in Frazier's name since he bought the property.

"He signed to have the service discontinued," Taylor said. "He said he didn't want it back on unless he personally comes up here to have it turned back on. We did a regular work order and cut the water off."

Taylor said it is common procedure to put a lock on meters when they terminate service.

"The next day, (Frazier) went over there and evidently a tenant had cut off the lock," Taylor said. "He called the law, then called us back. Our next step is that we pull the meter, and that's what we did."

Michael Sparkman, a Hartselle attorney, said Hollaway and Hughes hired him Friday.

"(Frazier) is violating the landlord tenant act," Sparkman said, "because it's against the law to withhold services."

Sparkman said the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act that went into effect Jan. 1 makes it unlawful for a landlord to cause the interruption of heat, running water, hot water, electric gas or other essential services.

"(Frazier) sued to have them evicted," Sparkman said. "We're countersuing for damages for violating that provision of the law."

Morgan County Chief Deputy Mike Corley said the notices give the tenants 10 days to leave.

"If they don't comply, we serve another 10-day notice," he said. "Then, if they still haven't complied, the landowner can come to the clerk's office at the courthouse, pay a filing fee, and request a seven-day notice of eviction to be served by the sheriff."

Corley said the defendants have a right to file a counter affidavit to be heard by a judge as to why they should or shouldn't have to move.

CORRECTION

A story in Tuesday’s edition about two families near Hartselle that a landowner seeks to evict, should have quoted Morgan County Chief Deputy Mike Corley as saying the state’s new landlord-tenant law lets a landlord break a lease with seven days’ notice for not paying the rent and with 14 days’ notice for other lease violations.

The Daily regrets the error and is glad to set the record straight.

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