DANVILLE, Va. -

The note on the door sealed the deal for Joe Guzman.

"Any person using or occupying this structure and removing this placard will be prosecuted," said Joe Guzman, a former tenant, reading the condemned sign hanging on a door where he once lived.

He lived here for 18 months and had a feeling that condemned sign was coming. He and 12 of his neighbors were given 10 days to leave.

"This is like the worst. I come from Harlem, New York, and I've heard of situations like this and even the ones I've heard about are not as bad as this place," Guzman said.

He says the problems started when he moved in and tried to open a window.

"The whole window just fell off. I only lifted it about three quarters to an inch and the whole thing. It was rotten," Guzman said.

Then, he says, things got worse. Broken ceilings and bathroom fixtures were repaired with duct tape, making a temporary fix, a permanent one.

Grace and Main Ministries and the local branch of Virginia Organizing helped the tenants find new housing and are reminding them of their rights.

"Those conditions that those people were living in. People wouldn't have their dogs living like that," said Catherine Fitzgerald, a volunteer with Virginia Organizing. She says she stood by the tenants during a meeting with the landlord in April.

"One mentioned he didn't have any heat in the winter. One mentioned he had no running water, the roaches were horrendous," Fitzgerald said.

Christina Thomas, whose family owns the property, says the building has been in the family for 60 year.

After an inspection, earlier this month, she says the family got a letter from the city giving them 30 days to make repairs.

She says she found out from someone else the city suddenly changed that noticed to 10 days and they didn't have time to make repairs.

Thomas says her family helped many of the tenants find new housing.

"I'm heartsick this happened, but we did the best we could," Thomas said.