Lansing officials are allowing landlords to rent out homes without any regard for safety codes or regulations. In 2020, the city issued pink tags to more than 800 apartments in Lansing, according to reports in the Lansing State Journal.
Two years later, nothing has changed. In fact, residents are paying hundreds of dollars for apartments infested with rats, cockroaches, mice, exposed wiring, holes in the walls or ceilings, leaking plumbing, lack of running hot and cold water, functioning toilets and smoke alarms that don’t work. Landlords are making profit off of others’ poverty and desperation, collecting rent for properties in which no one should have to live. This is immoral, inhuman and un-American.
Where is the red line? When will city officials intervene? When will we see accountability?
Lansing residents have been very, very vocal. However, those pleas seemed to have fallen on deaf ears. Our local government has no plans to address this issue. Landlords have refused to make the necessary repairs and families are forced out onto the street. America is a First World country, but Lansing residents are treated as Third World citizens.
I know what a Third World citizen treatment looks like. I was born in a Third World country. Anyone who thinks they are doing a good deed by providing slum housing to Lansing residents is highly mistaken. In fact, they are causing more harm and disservice than good. We have many homes in low-income areas that are dealing with an abundance of lead in paint and plumbing. Lansing will become the new Flint if changes are not implemented properly and urgently.
We must hold landlords accountable and educate Lansing residents of their rights and responsibilities. We must require landlords to pay for all relocation costs for tenants who are temporarily displaced because of code violations. Our local government needs to help displaced families find homes by creating an affordable housing trust fund. This trust fund would allow our city to build more affordable housing and it would give tenants an opportunity to find safer homes in case they are temporarily displaced because of code violations. No one should be at the mercy of slumlords. This needs to be a priority for Mayor Andy Schor and the Lansing City Council. Lives are at stake!
(The writer was a candidate for mayor of Lansing in 2021 primary election.)
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Hello, my name is Doug Benson and I am the President of the Rental Property Owners Association of Mid-Michigan (RPOAMM). We are basically a group of people that own or operate rental property in the Tri-County area of Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties. I read this letter to the Editor with interest and with concern. As soon as I see the word “slumlord”, my radar goes off.
There are over 30,000 rental units in Lansing. Members of the RPOAMM own and operate more than 2,500 of those units. The RPOAMM members are landlords and property owners who have paid tens of thousands of dollars to have their units registered and inspected every other year with a code compliance officer from the city of Lansing. The state of their buildings and the health of their business is not due to the City of Lansing’s inspections. Inspections are simply a part of doing business in the city of Lansing. Not all cities require inspections. Regardless, adhering to safety codes and standards is good business. There is no competitive advantage whatsoever to let your buildings fall into a state of disarray, to become dangerous. There is no competitive advantage to offer a place with pests, with maladies, with safety issues. No one wants to live like that. No one.
The original letter to the Editor of the City Pulse says that 800 pink tags were issued based on reports in the Lansing State Journal. Reading the State Journal article, it states “The notices warn residents they may need to leave their homes if the properties, under the same management umbrella, do not schedule inspections and pay fines within 30 days to obtain valid rental certificates.” The tone of the original letter speaks to issues of infestation and danger that doesn’t reflect how many city landlords and rental property owners run their business.
While we agree that 800 pink tags is 800 too many, they were issued by the City of Lansing to a single company that is running two large complexes on the South side of Lansing. They were issued for reasons of scheduling inspections and not registering their rentals.
This is the reason for my response.
RPOAMM members and other real estate investors pour millions of dollars a year into the City of Lansing to provide good housing. Housing that is a destination for people, that is a destination for families. While not all of us operate the same, many of us are upset at the owners that don’t look out for their tenants, that don’t invest in their properties, that don’t work to make this a great community to live in.
By and large the City of Lansing has been accommodating when it comes to issues of compliance. We have given our opinions and suggestions to the city regarding Code Inspections and they have all been listened to. Some have even been implemented. We want this to work. We want the City of Lansing to thrive, to become a great city. All of us want that.
So please, recognize that while there are problems with housing in the City, many of us are taking steps to resolve those problems in a timely manner. We should be in the business of looking out for and taking care of our neighborhoods. Many of us do that, some don’t.
Today I am only speaking for those of us that do. I cannot and will not defend those that don’t. I am simply stating that it needs to be noted that the majority of us that own and operate rentals in the City of Lansing are responsible operators and we are looking after the best interests of our tenants because that helps us look after the best interests of our business. To do otherwise is folly.
Douglass D. Benson
Owner Esker Properties, LLC
Sunday, January 23, 2022 Report this