(Editor's note: This video captures the fiery destruction of the Pride flag.)
TUESDAY, June 28 — The house where 23-month-old Damian Shesshia died in a fire Monday was an unregistered and hence uninspected rental property, Brian McGrain, director of Lansing’s Office of Economic Development and Planning, confirmed today.
McGrain said that the property was identified as a possible unregistered rental in 2020. However, the then-owner told city inspectors the house was empty and that he had no plans to use it. As a result, the city shut the case on the unregistered rental process.
The property was sold in June 2021 to Grand Rapids business Chamberlain Capital LLC. In August 2021, the business was transferred to Evolve Real Estate LLC, of DeWitt. The address in the city’s property records for that business is a residential property.
Deputy Fire Chief Michael Tobin said in a press release the property was a rental and it did not have fire detectors. In a phone interview, he said individuals rescued from the fire told officials the home was a rental property.
The city’s rental certification process was adopted in order to prevent unscrupulous investors and landlords from renting out unsafe properties. The process requires inspections and fees to get registered and remain registered.
McGrain said many unregistered rentals are identified by neighbor complaints or because code compliance has to visit the property because it has noticed trash or long grass in violation of the city’s codes.
That was the case in 2020 with the previous owner, McGrain said. The city went to the property to issue a grass citation, but when the inspector did a property review the inspector found the owner had more than one property. The assumption in such situations is that one or more of the properties owned by a person is an unregistered rental. The city then issues a failure to register notice.
The Monday fire killed the child, but three other people were saved, according to the Fire Department. The fire started in a back bedroom. Fire and Police Department are investigating.
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