Detroit officials shut down crumbling apartment

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Detroit has launched a new initiative to keep renters safe - but it didn't come soon enough for the tenants living in an apartment building on Appoline.

Tiffany Campbell is one of a handful of tenants who say they were practically forced out of their apartment building on Appoline because of the bad conditions inside.

There's mold in some apartments and Campbell was without heat for nearly a month

"I came home my house was freezing and this is dead of winter," she said.

The building was sold to a new owner a few months ago.  Around that same time the power and gas service were disconnected because they were hooked up illegally.

Campbell says the new owner refused to make any repairs to her apartment unless she paid her rent, up front.

This past Friday, there was a new development.

"They came back, took the radiators, they broke down people's apartments," she said. "Just crazy."

Men claiming to work for the new owner came into the building and started clearing house.

Campbell and other tenants called police who ordered the men out. Then, they broke the really bad news - the building was not safe for tiffany and the others to live in.

"They told us it was too toxic," she said. "They told us it's horrible in here, it's been horrible, they told us we need to leave now and they didn't know how we stayed there that long."

"It is apparent the owner did not go through the process that is required by law for eviction of tenants," said Eric Johnson.

Eric Johnson is from Detroit's Building Safety Engineering and Environmental Department; it's leading the charge in the city's crackdown on bad landlords who let their properties languish.

An apartment building on Weaver was declared uninhabitable, the city is the process of getting the tenants out.

"In that building we have a lot of illegal wiring, illegal hookups," Weaver said. "You had situations where you had water in the basement and now it's rising all the way up to the first level. so all of that means is there are extreme conditions that causes us to take immediate action."

Under the city's new plan, tenants in five zip codes will be able to put their rent in escrow if landlords don't pass property inspections. 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.

The property manager for the Appoline apartment building says the owner is committed to fixing the place up.

"We're going to come back and start our process of inspections," Johnson said. "And then enforcement actions against the owner because of the conditions and allowing someone to be in the building."

Now this apartment building and the one on Weaver are not in the zip codes the city is targeting. But the city is helping those tenants find permanent housing while putting the pressure on the landlords.