September 21, 2014

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Records: Landlord failed to have house inspected

Fire left rental uninhabitable 

LORAIN — Another landlord could be in hot water for not scheduling a rental inspection on a property that caught fire because of an electrical problem Sunday evening.

Records from the city’s Building Department show that Landlord Leasing Inc., which owns the now uninhabitable home at 1724 E. 32nd St., has never scheduled an inspection for the property as is required by law every three years. On Sunday, faulty wires in the attic started a fire that spread into the second floor and caused smoke damage to much of the home, leaving a married couple and their four children homeless, Lorain fire Capt. Dennis Livchak said. The family had rented the home for about seven years.

One of the residents, 46-year-old Marjorie Atkinson, said she had been complaining to the landlord for several months about electrical sockets not working and about fuses being blown if more than two electrical items were plugged in at the same time. The landlord promised to come out and fix the problem, but never did, Atkinson said.

Chief Building Inspector William Desvari called the company, located on Reid Avenue in Lorain, Monday morning and demanded that it provide a list of properties it owns so the city can see if any others have not been inspected.

A check of his records showed that the company owns at least one other house on East 32nd Street that also has never been inspected, Desvari said.

Desvari said landlords have a responsibility to know if their properties are dangerous.

“Homeowners should be aware of what they have in their house,” Desvari said. “When they rent that home out, that money they receive isn’t just profit. That money the renter pays is also meant to assure the renter’s safety. You can’t rent out a death trap.”

Jacky McCarty, office manager for Landlord Leasing Inc., said Monday she was under the impression that she only needed inspections once a tenant moved out. The company owns about 130 properties in Lorain County with the majority in Lorain, she said.

She said the company is speaking with its attorney to see what is required regarding the inspections.

The company could be fined or the owner could receive jail time if the inspections are not done, Desvari said.

The city has been cracking down on landlords who attempt to skirt inspections ever since a house that hadn’t been inspected burned down in July, leaving a mother and her five children homeless.

The house did not have smoke detectors, which are the landlord’s responsibility to install.

Contact Adam Wright at 653-6257 or awright@chroniclet.com.