Detroit officials continue strict crackdown on landlords with rental property violations

Inspectors working to hold landlords accountable, keep renters safe

By Karen Drew - Reporter/Anchor, Derick Hutchinson

DETROIT - A crackdown is underway in Detroit as officials try to keep landlords accountable and renters safe.

City officials said they are continuing to go after landlords who have yet to get their properties inspected for hazards. The Local 4 Defenders were there as inspectors took the next step to get landlords to comply.

Detroit officials are serious about stopping blight and bad rental conditions. Now, building inspectors are putting landlords in the 48214 ZIP code on notice. Landlords must get their property licensed and inspected, or they will be fined.

City building inspector Donnie Wright ticketed a home on Alter Road, and the landlord who owns it now faces a $750 fine.

"A lot of the tenants would rent a property and not be aware of any conditions that could be hazardous to their health," Wright said. "You could have some electrical issues where wires are undersized; sleeping at night with no smoke detectors."

Landlords in the 48215 ZIP code had until Aug. 1 to get a certificate of compliance. That means they registered their rental property, had it inspected by the city and fixed any violations.

"The landlord knows he has to register his property with the city of Detroit, have a lead clearance, fix all violations, and the city of Detroit will give him a certificate of compliance to rent," Detroit project manager for the Buildings Safety, Engineering and Environmental Department Mark Kincanon said. "This landlord has not done it."

Landlords are being ticketed in the area from the border of Grosse Pointe Park to the Marina District.

"I think it's long overdue," Detroit resident Jerry Monaghan said. "I wish it would have happened decades ago."

Monaghan lives in the neighborhood and used to be a landlord. He said he's happy about the city's ordinance keeping landlords in check.

"Every game has rules," Monaghan said. "Be in compliance with the rules or just get out, then. If you don't like the way things are, then just get out of the line of work. That's what I'd tell them. Would you want to live in a place that's falling apart, that has issues with the safety and everything else? If you were renting, you'd want those things to be fixed of course, right? Well, same thing goes for other renters."

"It's to protect the renter and make sure that their kids live in a lead-free environment, that there's no damage to the house, which means roof leaking, flooded basements, backed-up toilets, things of that nature," Kincanon said.

Wright has been a city inspector for five years, and he said the inspections catch what a renter might miss.

"We need to be able to come in, inspect these properties, make sure that they are safe, not only for the tenant but for the safety of the neighbors and for the homeowner's well-being, also," Wright said.

Landlords will be ticketed and fined every 30 days until they bring their properties into compliance. In the 48215 ZIP code, only 52 of 468 rental properties are compliant.

City officials want renters to know that if they're living in a place that's been ticketed, they don't have to pay their rent for up to three months. That money goes into an escrow account until the city inspects the property and any violations are fixed.

For more information on the landlord crackdown, click here.

To learn how renters can put their rent money in escrow, click here.

Click here to visit the website for UCHC Detroit, a nonprofit that offers housing assistance to Detroit's low-income residents.

Click here to visit the website for Lakeshore Legal Aid, which offers legal advice and counseling, document review and preparation, negotiation, mediation and representation in court.

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