Sherman Gardens Apartments fire, Berrada repair work done without permit

Online records show Berrada Properties, the owner of Milwaukee's Sherman Gardens Apartments, which was damaged by fire on July 20, began construction work without the proper permit.

The city posted a notice on the building Tuesday, Aug. 1, ordering that no further work be done. This, after a FOX6 team saw crews out on Monday doing construction work that we confirmed with the city was done without a permit.

"I’m feeling displaced," said Darryl Bailey.

Sherman Gardens Apartments

Beyond missing home after the fire, Sherman Gardens residents like Bailey said they're missing what was stolen in break-ins after the fire.

"Valuables being taken, pretty much re-victimizing victims," said Nick McVey, community advocate.

"Somebody been in there and ransacked my place," said Bailey.

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Crews working to repair fire damage on Monday were missing something, too.

The Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services confirmed construction work, such as on load-bearing walls, was done on Monday without the department issuing the proper permit. Those permits ensure compliance with building code regulations and standards.

Sherman Gardens Apartments

"We see something, we say something," said McVey.

McVey describes himself as a community advocate and came out to help after seeing residents had their apartments ransacked, noticing construction work being done on the building without the city's go-ahead.

"I was born and raised here on the north side, and things need to get better, and the only thing that will make things better is if we come together," said McVey. "More people could get hurt, so we just wanted to be preemptive."

According to DNS, an inspector issued a stop work order to any structural repair. A posted sign warning against further work was on the building Tuesday.

Sherman Gardens Apartments

In a statement Tuesday evening, Berrada Properties said their commercial repair permit was applied for, and they have an obligation to protect the building from any further damage, which the permit will cover:

"The commercial repair permit has been applied for and is in the city's land management system. Berrada Properties has an obligation to protect the building from any further damage from the elements, and the commercial repair permit will cover that work."

The Department of Neighborhood Services said certain work is allowed without the permit, including protecting the building from damage or removing damaged materials.

Tenants like Bailey say the damage was already done.

"Without a permit, I don’t know the structure’s safe or what, so I don’t feel comfortable moving back in there," said Bailey.

Sherman Gardens Apartments

Berrada Properties is the subject of a lawsuit filed by the Wisconsin Department of Justice alleging they violated landlord-tenant law by doing things like including illegal provisions in leases and charging illegal late fees.

In the statement, Berrada said they’re refunding July rent and security deposits to Sherman Gardens tenants finding a new place to live after the fire and waiving August rent for certain residents:

"This has been a difficult situation for all involved and Berrada Properties is committed to fully repairing the damaged apartment units as soon as possible."