One of the responsibilities of a landlord is to ensure that an investment property is kept in suitable living condition. When a building is not maintained to code standards, or either party does not follow the terms of the lease, serious issues can arise and sometimes bring about litigation.

Two dozen families have been removed from a Detroit apartment building after it was condemned. According to fire officials, the furnace stopped working in the property, which is located between I-96 and I-94 on West Grand Boulevard. Recent frigid temperatures in the area meant that residents were trying to keep warm with space heaters. The space heaters were reportedly furnished by the owner of the property, even though they are considered to be a fire hazard.

Fire officials were alerted about the use of the space heaters, and when they came to the building, they found other issues as well. According to the Fire Captain, water was leaking into electrical rooms and there was raw sewage in the basement. Fire officials decided that the residents needed to be moved to a safer, warmer location. A Detroit Department of Transportation bus came to pick up the residents, and reports indicate they will receive free housing until the structure is back up to code.

The landlord maintained that the heat had only been out for a few days, but the renters said that the building had been unfit for living for over a month. Part of having an investment property is making sure that property repairs are completed as needed.

The tenants may have the right to seek compensation from the landlord for not keeping their homes in a livable, safe and sanitary condition. An experienced real estate attorney may be able to provide more information on the tenants’ possible legal options.

Source: CBS Detroit, “Residents ‘Saved’ From Heatless, Sewage-Covered Apartment Building In Detroit” No author given, Jan. 29, 2014

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