Legacy of neglect: Slumlords play the system
Slumlords avoid penalties while bringing down neighborhoods; mayor vows reform The Columbus Dispatch By Mark Ferenchik , Jill Riepenhoff and Mike Wagner
Sunday November 10, 2013 5:30 AM
I read the above article today in my local newspaper.
This is a strong article and I hope readers will listen and take action. Slumlords are all around us from our neighbors, businesses, public officials, and even our Area Commissions. It’s a tough and disgusting swallow.
First and foremost we all have options and choices when it comes to where we live. I hear time and time again the living conditions that people are faced to live in and that “My grandbabies shouldn’t have to live like this,” but what options or actions have these individuals taken to better there living conditions? Granted we have many slumlords in the City of Columbus that prey on just these individuals as demonstrated by our community blog on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/SlumlordWatchColumbusOhio/. As citizens “that drive by” and see these conditions we can and do report it to Columbus311 because it is a violation of our community standard but these individuals have to take action as well. Sure they can call Columbus311 and report the violation or put rent money in escrow but 95% of the time the slumlord is indeed going to take advantage of the system and just kick their tenants out and bring in another tenant thankful and gracious that the landlord took them in “no questions asked”.
Slumlord housing is a disease that is spread willingly, knowingly, advantageously and will continue to prevail until the victims of these slumlords fight back, the communities these slumlords do business in fight back, the City of Columbus gets tougher in being actionable in code enforcement violations, and finally the State of Ohio needs to re-vamp it’s antiquated property ownership laws and put tougher enforcement and penalties on slumlords doing business along these lines especially LLC’s.
Code Enforcement’s job is to enforce code no matter how minor the infraction. It is not our place as citizens to hold off on using the service because we feel that it may burden the system or that it is too minimal to worry about when there our bigger issues. Unfortunately these bigger issues are hindered because the City and the State has no teeth to go after these slumlords, absentee landlords, and abandoned housing. Whether a citizen is a victim or not, we as citizen’s need to continue to report any and all code violations from the most minor to the major. The City of Columbus needs to respond then by taking action on them and hiring more personnel when needed to address this growing disease. Finally, as citizen’s we are responsible as well because we become complacent to these issues and do nothing even though we live right next door to this issue. When countered as to why, one doesn’t do anything, it’s always the same thing, “Well the city won’t do anything anyway so why bother.” Let’s remove that notion and as citizen’s DO SOMETHING. OBSERVE – DOCUMENT – REPORT – FOLLOWUP! As citizens we have these responsibilities when living in an urban setting. Get involved, contact your neighborhood block watch or civic association. Walk the streets in your community, pick up trash, document problem properties and followup. It starts with us first before it can move up the chain.