Landlord, tenants exchange blame in CO leak

Landlord, tenants exchange blame in CO leak
Landlord Marco Waller took reporter Dani Carlson inside the East Cleveland home. (Source: WOIO)
Dominion Gas red tagged the furnace at the end of January. (Source: WOIO)
Dominion Gas red tagged the furnace at the end of January. (Source: WOIO)
Waller said he supplied the tenants with heaters. (Source: WOIO)
Waller said he supplied the tenants with heaters. (Source: WOIO)

EAST CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The landlord who owns a home where more than a dozen people were sickened by carbon monoxide took Cleveland 19 inside the home Thursday. He blamed a stove and the tenants who lived there for causing the CO build up, while the tenants said they think the landlord is trying to pass the blame.

Marco Waller showed Cleveland 19 reporter Dani Carlson an old stove in the kitchen as a possible cause for the CO leak.

"I told them not to put [the stove] in the house, that it was ready for scrap. It should have been red tagged," said Waller.

He said his tenants were using the stove for heat, something the tenants have vehemently denied.

Carlson asked him why he didn't do or say anything earlier if he had a problem with what his tenants were allegedly doing.

"Why didn't I do something before? Well, I don't know. I mean, I was panicking myself. I'm just thinking about getting the furnace fixed. So the furnace guy really created the whole thing, because I never wanted them to heat the house with this," responded Waller.

Waller said the tenants trashed the house, and more people were living there than he had been told. That is, again, a claim the tenants denied.

"I almost lost my life," said Krystal Woodard, who is expected to be released from the hospital soon. "As far as it being a mess, you have to understand, there was kids there."

Her sister, Latasha Blocker, who was treated and released, said she signed a lease for seven people in the home, and said the kids who were there Tuesday night were visiting and didn't actually live there.

One thing both sides agree on is the heat was definitely out in the home for several days.

"What they did was, I brought heaters and they shut off two rooms. Other than that, I told them they had to go to the hotel," said Waller.

The furnace was red tagged by Dominion Gas at the end of January for being dangerous. A representative from Dominion confirmed that the gas had previously been shut off for non-payment, and when the company came to turn it back on at the end of January, they decided the furnace was unsafe.

Waller said he didn't know it had been red tagged, and Dominion confirmed they didn't inform him, but they did tell the tenant who was home at the time.

"No, I never knew it was red tagged. I never would have touched it," said Waller.

The tenants claim Waller is a landlord who is trying to pass the buck, since so many people got seriously sick.

Waller claimed he hired a contractor who was licensed and bonded to do the furnace work.

When Carlson called the phone number Waller provided, she spoke to a man who wouldn't give his full name. He said whatever happened was not his fault. Cleveland 19 checked with the state and could not find anyone registered with the name of the business where he said he worked.

The East Cleveland Fire Department said they plan to send people to the home within the next couple of days to pinpoint the cause of the CO leak.

Cleveland 19 has put in a request with the city of East Cleveland to learn all of the housing violations at the address.

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