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The house at 1505 Tower St. S.E. Next-door neighbor Vanessa Collins says the run-down rental house is ruining her property values.
Daily photo by Chris Paschenko
The house at 1505 Tower St. S.E. Next-door neighbor Vanessa Collins says the run-down rental house is ruining her property values.

Decatur homeowner weary of living next to junky rental

By Chris Paschenko 340-2442

A Decatur woman, who said she was assaulted while trying to keep her property clean, said the trash that blows into her yard from a run-down rental home is ruining her property value.

Vanessa Collins said 1505 Tower St. S.E. is a mess, with peeling paint, dirty walls, burglar bars, a rusted mailbox and trash often strewn about. She complained that her neighbor throws trash into the 12-foot hedge that's on her property between the two homes.

Morgan County Revenue Office records list Tommy Sykes as the owner. Phone records show Sykes rents the house to Katrina Caudle, who was charged and convicted of misdemeanor assault against Collins, according to court records.

"I was tossing garbage back onto the property," Collins said. "She throws out diapers, chicken bones, toys, beer bottles, fast-food wrappers. I offered to buy her a garbage can to put out front, and when I had my back turned she hit me in the back of the head with a broken two-by-four."

A city of Decatur magistrate said the assault occurred Aug. 3, and that Caudle was arrested Aug. 4.

Caudle pleaded guilty in December and was sentenced to 20 days in jail, probation and ordered to pay $848 in restitution, the magistrate said.

Since the incident, Collins said, she has tried four or five times to contact Sykes to see if he would maintain his property.

"He used to be good about returning my phone calls," Collins said. "The last time I talked to him was in August, and I asked him if he would do some painting or put siding on the house to improve the conditions."

Collins said she told Sykes that his house "was an eyesore" and people couldn't sell their homes.

"I told him improving it sooner would be better than later and all the residents nearby would appreciate a coat of paint on it," Collins said. "He acted like he didn't have the money."

Sykes said he knew of the incident between Caudle and Collins and thought their problems were solved. He said his tenant said her children were "being devious" and threw the garbage in the hedge and then Collins went next door in a rage and started throwing things herself.

"The problem is really both of their fault," Sykes said.

He admitted that the house needs some work and said he's been planning to make improvements. The day after a Daily reporter contacted him about his houses, Sykes said he talked to Caudle and she said she arranged for someone to make the necessary improvements and build privacy fence on his property along the hedge.

"I started the process in early spring, but I've had a hard time finding someone to do the work at a decent price," Sykes said.

Collins said she has had problems with Sykes' previous tenants as well, but he removed them from the property.

Sykes is also listed as the owner of at least six other homes, but only one, at 406 Eighth St. N.W., is in worse shape. The house's paint is peeling, junk and weeds grow on the grounds and the roof appears to be in disrepair.

"The roof is fine, unless something happened that I don't know about — I just redid it," Sykes said. "I'm in the process of doing a complete makeover, but it just takes time and money and I'm on a fixed income now."

Sykes, a member of Decatur's school board, recently retired from Delphi Corp.

His other homes are in better shape, with new wooden porch fences, paint and siding.

"Nobody wants to live next door to that," Collins said of the Tower Street house.

"As a homeowner, you wouldn't think your investment has depreciated. The people who own the home don't take care of it, because they don't live next door to it. I don't understand why if you have a rental property you let it go down the tubes."

Reporter Bayne Hughes contributed to this story.

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