September 2, 2014

Elyria
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Lorain mayoral candidate schedules property inspections

LORAIN — In the wake of a citywide crackdown on landlords who try to skirt inspections, Lorain’s Republican candidate for mayor scheduled his rental properties for checkup on Thursday.

John Romoser paid $350 to have seven of his 11 properties inspected inside by the city building department — at $50 a piece. The properties will be inspected within the month.

Romoser

The other four properties were inspected earlier this week, but will require another examination so the interiors can be done.

Chief Building Inspector William Desvari notified Romoser that he was past due for an inspection last week after records showed two letters were sent to his home in March and April asking him to schedule an inspection. Inspections are required every three years.

One of the letters was returned as undeliverable, but Romoser said he doesn’t know why and never received any notification that he needed inspections. His understanding of the law was that inspections were required only when tenants changed and said he never heard otherwise.

“I’m not sure what the law is, it’s changed so many times,” he said. “(The city) has my number, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t have gotten a memo.”

Romoser has five duplexes and one single-family house he rents out on Missouri, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and New Mexico avenues on the city’s east side. The four that already were inspected did not have any major problems, Desvari said.

“There was a cracked window and a piece of siding missing, but nothing other than that,” Desvari said.
Desvari said that only the exteriors were done because that’s all former Safety Service Director Craig Miller told him had to be done, given that the city only has two inspectors for nearly 11,000 rental units.

But a city ordinance says that both the interior and the exterior have to be inspected, which Desvari said no one informed him about.

“To do interiors for 11,000 houses, it’s not going to happen,” he said. “We’ll do as many as we can and we’ll try to get them all done, but it’s going to be quite a task. Council might have to give me eight more inspectors.”

Council will be looking at passing legislation in September that could lead to exterior-only inspections, which would lighten the workload for the building department.

The impetus for the change came after it was discovered that a July 5 fire that left a Lorain family homeless might have been avoided if the landlord kept up with the fire code by ensuring that operable smoke detectors were in the home.

Contact Adam Wright at 329-7151 or awright@chroniclet.com.