Slumlords need to be exposed – The Columbus Dispatch
Home Opinion Letter to the Editor
By DAVID A. YOUNG, Worthington
Saturday January 14, 2012 3:10 AM
Recent coverage of abandoned, derelict, uninhabitable houses and apartments brings to light the extent of the problem in our communities caused by slumlords and greedy property owners. Average- or low-income residents, college students and others are victimized by the sleazy maintenance, safety and health hazards present in the properties they rent or lease. Property owners and neighbors are victimized by the derelict houses in their neighborhoods. Taxpayers are affected by the lowered property-tax rates and increased cost of police and fire protection.
This was brought home to me by the experience I had while assisting a good friend to establish his home-repair and maintenance business. My friend was contacted by a man who offered a considerable amount of work at a good hourly rate to paint, lay tile and do minor repairs in a number of properties owned by him and his wife in various communities around metropolitan Columbus.
The property owner took my friend to see the properties he wanted “repaired,” emphasizing that he wanted them to “just look nice,” applying paint to touch up, caulk to patch, windows repaired and other minor tasks for rentals primarily to students and other young adults. Accompanying my friend and the property owner on the tour of properties to be repaired, I was appalled at the condition of the apartments and houses. Leaking and damaged roofs, broken and boarded-up windows, mold, unsafe wiring, bad plumbing, trash, water mildew, accumulated trash in yards and falling-down garages.
The owner made it clear he wanted to do it “on the cheap” — just make it look good, dress it up so he could quickly rent them. Building codes and inspections were to be ignored; safety and healthy living conditions were of no concern. Just make them look nice. When we tried to suggest things that needed to be done, he became angry, telling us he knew more than we did and saying that if we continued to criticize his maintenance, there would be no working relationship. This man was a greedy slumlord.
From reading the newspaper for the past week, it is obvious that there are many greedy slumlords in our area, but they live in Upper Arlington, Bexley, Dublin, Worthington and other upscale communities that enforce building and zoning regulations and standards. But the slumlords actively contribute to the deterioration of other Columbus communities such as Clintonville, the university area, Grandview Heights, Franklinton and the Hilltop. Many of us have slumlords among us, living in our neighborhoods, pretending to be good citizens, belonging to clubs, playing golf and attending church, while participating in the deterioration of properties and jeopardizing the safety of residents in Columbus and other neighborhoods.
The slumlords need to be exposed, be held to health and safety, zoning and other regulations enacted for the betterment of our neighborhoods and be prosecuted for thumbing their noses at the laws and regulations intended to protect us. Where are the inspectors? Where are the courts? Where is our sense of decency, respect for our fellow citizens and preservation of neighborhoods? Expose them, post their names on websites and hold them accountable for their shameful business.