UNIONTOWN (KDKA) — A code enforcement officer is cracking down on a landlord in Fayette County, threatening to condemn his properties and forcing his tenants out into the cold.

But the landlord and even some of the tenants feel he’s being unfairly targeted.

They are hard to miss; several homes along Millview Street with big yellow signs from the Uniontown Code Enforcement Office saying violations inside make them unsafe.

“We were informed the furnace wasn’t in compliance with the gas company or code,” said Bennie Fletcher, Jr., a tenant.

“The furnace, the ceiling in the bathroom’s been ready to fall,” added Todd Knight, another tenant.

Visited by Uniontown Code Enforcement Officer Scott Chappel, Fletcher and Knight were told if the landlord didn’t fix the problems, they’d be moved out in two days and the homes would be condemned.

“I try to give them the best service that I can and provide them with solutions to their problems,” said Russell Mechling, the landlord.

Mechling, one of the biggest land owners in Uniontown, met with KDKA. He said there have never been any problems with the furnaces and all were deemed operational.

He says all the code enforcement officer had to do is call him before slapping on the large violation signs.

“I don’t know why such a big deal was made about the code violations, which are minor, at best,” said Mechling.

KDKA’s Ross Guidotti: “Is this a bit much or do you think this was appropriate?”

Chappel: “When there is the possibility of a faulty furnace involved, I don’t think it’s a bit much.”

By the time KDKA left, the signs were down. The homes deemed safe, if in fact, there was ever any danger.

With the signs removed, folks can get back to normal and enjoy their holiday season. But Chappel says he will do his job, and if it means writing up more signs and filling out citations, he’ll do it.

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