Inspectors from the fire and health departments, in addition to code enforcement, conducted a joint inspection of every room.
“There are lots of issues with the rooms,” said Randy Wishard, environmental health manager with the Richmond County Health Department. “I think about half of them were condemned or closed.”
Inspectors were to gather Thursday to go over findings, Code Enforcement Administrator Pam Constabile said.
“We’ll sit down and work through all of the violations that inspectors found before handing it over to the owner,” she said. “It’s a good possibility that some of the rooms will be shut down for a while, but we won’t know until the task force meets.”
There was a wide range of problems, from holes in the walls and leaking ceilings, to furniture and mattresses in disrepair to missing smoke detectors, Wishard said. The owner of the hotel will have to submit a plan of remediation and pass inspections before some of those rooms can be rented again, he said.
It is the latest in several joint inspections in Augusta that have looked at the problem with long-term stay hotels. There is nothing in the city code that prohibits long-term stay in these places, which are typically cheaper to rent, but the facilities were not designed for that, Wishard said.
“They’re on the line of running an apartment complex versus a hotel,” he said. “These places were never built and approved years ago for apartments – they were hotels. You’ve got people that have been in them for years.”
Constabile said the program is making improvements in many of these long-term stay places.
“(The task force) has been very successful, I think,” she said. “The last few years we’ve been able to bring many of the hotels and motels up to the minimum code. We need these hotels and motels to be presentable to the public.”