Detroit gets tough with landlords renting dilapidated property

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Bed bugs, heat not working and overall nasty conditions are just some of the complaints from renters here in the city of Detroit. 

The city is listening to those cries, they want to make rental properties citywide better and they want to do it within the next two years. 

"These are your mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters and grandparents," said David Bell, Detroit Buildings safety director “They deserve better and we are going to give them better."

We have all seen the stories of landlords not keeping up their end of the bargain but they keep collecting rent. A new initiative in the city of Detroit will make it significantly harder for landlords to do that.

"It does not make sense for tenants to live in deplorable conditions," said Bell.

Bell oversees the program and said a new city ordinance passed by council late last year now allows Tenants to withhold their rent in escrow if their landlords aren't up to code.

"Once these landlords know they could lose their money, they are going to step up and do what is right for the citizens of Detroit," he said.

Over the next two years’ landlords in five designated zip codes will have to register with the city. An inspector then determines if the home or apartment is up to code. 

They have six months to fix any issues. If they can't make it happen, tenants can stop paying landlords directly, instead putting their money in escrow with a financial institution of the city's choosing.

"I think we owe it to our tenants to be good landlords," said Michelle Beverly. "I think we should be compliant."

Landlord Michelle Beverly is on board with the tougher enforcement. She says it's better for her too.

"I appreciate the fact they are giving us the opportunity that if we don't meet compliancy to get it together," said Beverly. "Before the six-month period it was a much shorter timeframe."

By August 1st renters in the five selected zip codes - 48215, 48224, 48223, 48219, 48209 and 48210 will be able to check a city run website to see if their landlords are giving what's promised.

"We've got to increase the quality of life for the tenants, the neighbors, the citizens of Detroit," Bell said. "And we are going to make it happen."