CHARLESTON - The Dunbar Housing Authority is suing a Dunbar man who refused to pay his rent because of what he perceived to be a cockroach problem.

Joshua Allen withheld rent for October and November of 2005 and January of this year. The three-month total that Dunbar Housing Authority is seeking is 612 dollars.

The original claim was filed in Kanawha Circuit Court on Jan. 19, and Allen filed a counter-complaint on Feb. 1. The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman.

In the counter-complaint, Allen, who is represented by attorney Susan Duarte, claims that he, his wife and their five children moved into an apartment at 934 Dutch Hollow Road in Dunbar despite being informed of a minor roach problem Dunbar Housing Authority employee Rod Harless.

After noticing roaches scurrying when lights were turned on or closet doors were opened, the DHA began regular treatment in July/August of 2005, according to the claim, moving treatment of the building up from once per month to once per week.

Allen says that he noticed a significant increase in roaches during this time, and by October the roach problem "became unbearable."

In his counter-claim, Allen says that roaches were "coming out of the furniture, appliances, faucets, drains, baseboards and ventilation."

He adds that his children were bitten by roaches, which were also found in their beds and hair.

After withholding his rent for October and November, Allen says that Harless acknowledged there was a roach problem throughout the building and that, in November, a more potent treatment would be
used requiring tenants to vacate the building for three hours.

Allen says that he did notice a decrease in the amount of roaches for about a week after the treatment, and wekly treatments continued through Dec. 19 before stopping from Dec. 26-Jan. 23. He claims that roach infestation returned to the same severe level it had been at in October and November.

Allen withheld his January rent, and the DHA filed a notice of termination on Jan. 19. It was the second notice that Allen had been served with, the previous one in October as a result of parking violations, according to Allen. That notice was dropped.

Allen claims that Harless told him that treatments past Jan. 23 would be contingent on Allen paying his rent, and that the second notice of termination included incidents that allegedly took place before the first withdrawn notice but were not listed in it.

Because of the roach problem, Allen is seeking a reduction in his rent that reflects the decreased market value of the building.

In a Feb. 10 reply to Allen's complaint, the DHA denied each allegation. They are representing themselves in court.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 06-C-96

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