Detroit apartment owners put on notice about heat requirements

It may be cold outside but one Detroit resident says it's also cold inside her apartment.

“We haven't had heat for almost a month.”

Valerie Horton says she suffers from several medical conditions including bronchitis, so she's using her stove to heat her apartment.

“I’m staying depressed because I shouldn't have to live like this at age 58.”

After reaching out to maintenance at her building and not getting a response, Horton called the city of Detroit for help.

Once inspectors arrived, they revealed why Horton's apartment feels so cold.

“Certainly seeing that there is no heat we went down and we looked at the boiler system and it seems to be inoperable,” said Eric Johnson, Inspector with the city of Detroit.

Building inspectors say when they come to check the heating conditions inside the building; they’re also looking at conditions on the outside.

“We certainly see that there are conditions outside that could cause slip and fall,” said inspector Johnson.

When inspectors find extreme conditions, they say it requires an emergency order and immediate action by the landlord.

“They have to take action. If they don't take immediate action today, we'll be back out tomorrow. If they have not done that, we will go through the process of enforcement.”

Enforcement could mean fines and possibly time behind bars.

“He's subject to getting citations weekly which could be anywhere from $500 for emergencies up to $1000. He can also get a misdemeanor criminal citation, which is a $500 fine or 90 days in jail.”

After inspectors went looking for the manager and there was no response, they said they would take necessary steps to locate the person required to make repairs.

If you need the city of Detroit to step in and make your landlord do the right thing this winter, Email BSEED at propertymaintenance@detroitmi.gov or call them at (313) 628-2451.

“Something has to be done,” said Horton. “Even though I’m looking for a better residence, I would hate to leave and have these conditions be left like this for the people who can’t leave.”

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