MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It’s not just crime that residents at the Peppertree Apartments, where law enforcement served a nuisance order this week, have complained about.

Those unsafe living conditions also extend to the property itself, and records WREG just obtained show that, like in the past, residents continue to ask for help and change.

City and county leaders declared the Whitehaven apartment complex, built in 1972, a public nuisance this week after they said police responded there 1,649 times from March 2020 to October 2021. Residents will not be allowed to renew their leases, and the complex can accept no new tenants.

The Peppertree Apartments are funded with your taxpayer dollars from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. We’re waiting to hear back from federal officials at HUD about the injunction.

Tenants have also reached out to state officials for help too. 

The Tennessee Housing Development Agency turned over more than 50 complaints to WREG that it received about the Peppertree Apartments in the past three years.

Issues range from water leaks and plumbing to air and heating not working, as well as rodent problems. The complaints date back to 2018 and include some that were investigated as “life threatening.”

One tenant who called THDA last October said she had a son, and had been living out of her car, because the complex refused to re-house her after her apartment caught fire.

This, despite the Memphis Fire Department report saying it wasn’t the tenant’s fault, like the complex claimed, but rather an electrical issue.

Another tenant said in a complaint, “the bedroom ceiling collapsed … there’s a mice infestation.”

Another resident said, “when it rains, water comes through the light fixtures in the bathroom.”

Images from inside the apartments

One told THDA, “I had issues since day one and it has continued to worsen overtime. I have submitted several letters to management with no results. These apartments already have rodent and pest issues so this is not safe.”

In each of these complaints, THDA follows up with the complex and the resident. Sometimes the issues gets resolved quickly, but not always, and not necessarily to the resident’s satisfaction.

Like in the case with the fire, THDA had to press the Peppertree about finding the resident a place to live, but they refused, continuing to say it wasn’t their responsibility and blamed how the fire department wrote up the report.

It’s also clear from these records that the owners are very aware of what’s going on.

In some cases THDA requested communication be sent directly to Tesco’s President Larry Sisson.

Our reporting over the years has shown residents also file complaints locally through Code Enforcement.

We may finally get to hear from the owners about all of this when they answer to an Environmental Court judge next week because of that public nuisance injunction.

Tesco refused our request for comment, and we’re waiting to hear back from HUD. 

HUD conducts inspections of properties like Peppertree. Federal records indicate the most recent inspection was conducted in May of 2019 and the complex received a 70, which is passing. 

HUD just resumed physical inspections earlier this year. Inspections from 2018 and 2016 show scores of 65 and 48, respectively. The 48 is a failing score.

In addition to HUD’S physical inspections, THDA also visits the properties for what’s called Management and Occupancy Reviews. Since those inspections have also just resumed, THDA, conducted the most recent one at the Peppertree in September. 

We’ve filed a public records request for more details. The agency says Peppertree received a satisfactory rating during its previous MOR, conducted in December of 2019.