A new idea by the Bellaire code enforcer is getting lots of attention.
He says if your landlord won’t fix things in your apartment, then you should pay your rent–not to the landlord–but into an escrow account at Eastern Division Court.
Code Enforcer Dick Flanagan says he sees renters living in bad conditions that their landlords aren’t fixing.
“I’ve been in places where I’ve seen raw sewage on the floor,” said Flanagan. “I’ve seen rats while I was talking to renters. Windows that don’t work. Air ducts that aren’t hooked up. Exposed electrical wiring.”
He said he’s also seen black mold, broken stairs, faulty ventilation and lead paint.
So his idea for renters to pay their rent into an escrow account at Eastern Division Court is getting a lot of good response from the public.
“If you’re paying rent, you need a decent place to live in,” said Nancy Propst of Bellaire. “And the landlord is responsible for fixing the places up, so yes.”
“They need to fix it,” agreed Paula Nolan of Belmont. “For how much rent is around here, they need to fix what’s going on in the house. Especially with kids! It’s ridiculous.”
Flanagan says many renters feel trapped, unable to afford to move.
So his newly-created Bellaire Code Enforcement Facebook page outlines their rights to have safe living conditions.
He also urges them to keep a log and document all their contacts with their landlord.
“Every time you call that landlord or that landlord’s office, you make sure you have a record and you have documentation,” Flanagan advised. “That way when something does happen–and it will happen–you can go back and say I’ve called 18 times because of this problem and it has not yet been fixed.”
He said many houses are so far gone they can’t be saved.
He said he’s had seven torn down since November, when he became code enforcer, and he plans to have 21 demolished by the end of the year.