Holding landlords accountable?
Thu, 13 Feb 2014 19:29:29 GMT —
There are more than six thousand rental units inside Quincy city limits. Some rental units are in good condition and some are not.
Quincy resident Cheryl Hobson says lack of a proactive inspection program affects everyone. "There's been a lot of issues with some houses here on second street and they don't even look safe, the roof has caved in, tried to bring that to the attention of the city inspector," Hobson said.
On the city's website it states "The Office of Inspection monitors and ensures compliance with these codes and ordinances. This includes ... maintenance of structures ... and anything else that may affect the quality of life in Quincy."
"They govern them with respect to minimum habitability standards, things like that, but again we don't do a proactive inspection of those, we are a complaint driven department at this point," City inspector Michael Seaver said.
Quincy does not have a rental inspection program but does have ordinances in place.
"I think we are kind of unique in the size of the community we have in not having any type of a rental inspection program in place," Seaver said.
One way to find out if your unit is up to code is by filing a complaint.
Several Quincy residents found out their units were not up to code at some North Fifth Street apartments.
"We need lighting, we need wiring, we need flooring, we need bathroom things all broke, ceiling has a hole in it, roof leaking and he's refusing to fix it." John Cain, one of the residents at the North Fifth Street apartments said.
He and other residents were displaced after a gas leak. John Gravitt, another resident, called the Quincy Fire Department at 5 in the morning on Friday, Jan. 31 after he was woken up out of his sleep from the smell. The fire department found a gas leak among other issues with the units so they called Seaver to inspect the property.
Seaver labeled the units "unfit to live in".
Hannibal does have a rental inspection program.
The city hired a second inspector to take on the increasing workload of rental properties.
Building inspector Chuck Anderson believes the inspection program is a good thing, "Yes absolutely, you know if we weren't inspecting them, you know I still go in homes that don't have smoke detectors up they don't work, so without doing these inspections it's a lot of those safety issues wouldn't be addressed and getting taken care of."
This is how the program works; if you were staying in a rental in Hannibal and applied to have utilities turned on, the application would alert the system to check if the unit has a certificate of occupancy. Sometimes the units are up to date and sometimes they are not.
Anderson admits the system is not perfect.
"The problem with that is it's too late, these people have already moved in by the time I get that form," Anderson said.
But it does help to eliminate risk and holds landlords accountable, unlike the Quincy complaint driven system.
Hobson has been in contact with Seaver about rental units in her neighborhood.
"Quincy is a nice place to live, but sometimes over in this area, it's not so nice and I sometimes don't think it gets the attention that it really needs," Hobson said.
She says you really just have to pick up the phone. "I'm just Cheryl and I can call and talk to them and I know that's all you have to do, pick up the phone and say you do have a complaint or an issue and I've never found any of them said they were too busy."