Apartment Inspection Report

APARTMENT INSPECTION REPORT How’s that new apartment-inspection program going? The city has given the new owner of the Garden Oaks Place Apartments across Griggs Rd. from the Palm Center until the middle of this month to make required repairs, after an inspection in August found broken railings, rusted-out columns, exposed wiring, and a host of other problems with the complex. But reporter Ted Oberg says at their current pace it’ll take inspectors 14 years to get to everyone. “According to the law, city crews are supposed to inspect every apartment complex in the city. So far, they’ve visited 217 — less than one a day.” [abc13; previously on Swamplot]

18 Comment

  • is this including all multi-family units with 3 or more apartments as per that recent change earlier this year?

    i definitely never saw anyone come by last spring like they said they were going to.

  • MontroseSlums.com contacted the city enforcement office to find out that there are different departments that oversee the inspections. One is structural and the other is occupancy. They were sending the structural inspectors out to check the exterior,and later, the occupancy inspectors were to inspect both the interior and the exterior of the MFRBs. Now they are supposedly allowing only occupancy inspectors to perform both inspections if the certificate of occupancy has been accepted. The departments appear to be short of funds and inefficient for the job at hand. It seems that the idea is good but the execution is poor. Right now, it seems that enforcement agencies, such as the Neighborhood Protection Corps, can not do an effective job in controlling some of the owners. We have this problem in Montrose,and even with city council person Sue Lovell living across the street from one of the worst offenders, the city is unable to enforce the ordinances,even for the most obvious violations, much less perform inspections.

    We also found out that the MFRB list had numerous errors; addresses were incorrectly listed for owners and some properties weren’t even listed. Another problem is with efficiency where properties , side-by-side belonging to the same owner, will be inspected at different times. We found an example of this where one is 270 and the other is 3870 on the list. That’s about an 8 year difference in inspection times for adjacent properties.
    Not sure what to think of this. On one hand, it maybe a good concept but lacks the commitment and resources to succeed. You can possibly argue that the city shouldn’t waste too much effort on this since its forced on the city, and they really don’t have the funds at this time.
    Not sure.

  • I just registered a property yesterday and thought the lady said they would contact me 4 to 5 days before the inspection. I replied “So the inspection won’t take place for at least 4 to 5 more days”. Then she said “no, fourty five days”.
    I replied “Okay, so since I obviously haven’t gotten that notice yet, it won’t be inspected for at least 45 days”. Then she said it was more like 12-24 months.
    When I asked why it took so long, she said they were doing about 40 a month. I think I was 3700 on the list. So I got about 7 years or so before they come around to this property.

  • I suspect not too many people know about MontroseSlums.com or your website would be overflowing with complexes and comments as well. Three Skylanes, Takara So and one complex on McDuffie are not reflective of “the hood” by any stretch of the imagination. And yes there are complexes far worse than Skylane ever was.

    “So I got about 7 years or so before they come around to this property.”

    Cody. Reality check. You have 7 years or so, or longer, unless 1) you upset someone at City Hall or 2) someone wants your property and wants it condemned in which case it will be 4 days for the inspection and condemnation on the 5th day.

    Think Wilshire Village.

    Send checks to the mayor and the city councilmembers. And join HAA. And watch 7 or so years turn into 14 or so years.

  • MattM
    Do you really think it’s that easy to condemn a building? Just curious to find out if you have any facts for that.

    Wilshire Village was put up for sale by choice of the owners, not city hall or any other outside force.

  • If you look at the act that passed, http://www.statesurge.com/bills/hb-1819-texas-492819, it sets a minimum standard for MFRBs. Does anyone know roughly how many MFRBs in Houston might be in violation? How many in Montrose?

  • From MontroseSLUMS:
    Do you really think it’s that easy to condemn a building? Just curious to find out if you have any facts for that.

    Wilshire Village was put up for sale by choice of the owners, not city hall or any other outside force.

    It also didn’t sell until after the city condemned it and had it demolished. You need to go back and read the various media stories about the saga of Wilshire Village. As with Park Memorial, the city just suddenly appeared and condemned.

    Maybe you like that approach to cleaning up slum properties. Others don’t. Particularly the tenants at Wilshire Village, one of the owners of Wilshire Village, and certainly not the homeowners at Park Memorial. Who are still in court and probably will have a major lawsuit against the city. For “wrongful condemnation.”

  • Oh and I forgot to add that not everyone considered Wilshire Village a slum property. And no one in their right mind would have considered Park Memorial a slum property. But there was a buyer in both cases. Who wanted the property cleared first.

    That’s the way it works in Houston. Particularly if you have an in at City Hall.

    And MontroseSlums.com will not be on my favorites list. Which you might update since the two Skylanes are no longer Skylanes and are no longer really slum properties.

  • MattM
    1. If you own a building, you can evict tenants, as far as we know. The owners wanted the residents out so they found a way. No one forced the owners to do what they did. We liked Wilshire Village and had friends there.
    2. We do not approve of owners that have the financial resources at hand, and do nothing to maintain their buildings for the residents. These are the people that we would like to control.
    3. The SLUMBLOG is for residents, with knowledge, to make comments on the MFRB to inform others on the condition so that others will be informed. You could help like Cody did.
    4. We’re polling for information on surrounding apartments, and not inferring that those properties are “bad”. We only have one collection of properties that are listed with problem owners, for the reasons given; the owners have the funds and don’t maintain the buildings.
    5. What are you referring to as “in the hood” and why state that?
    6. The web site just started and is undergoing growing pains with constant revision.
    7. You can help if you want. We would appreciate it.

  • Is a multi family resident building the same thing as an apartment building?

    Serious question, I truly don’t understand what makes a MFRB. If it is an apartment building, why not call it that?

  • The answer is No. See above links.
    Quoted here
    (b)AAIn this section:
    (1)AA”Multi-family rental building” means a building
    that has three or more single-family residential units.

  • moderation on swamplot, why i never…

  • I think you missed my point which was that if the city applied the same standards and used the same right to condemn “hazardous buildings” and evict tenants, and homeowners, on that basis, there wouldn’t be too many of the older complexes still standing. There certainly wouldn’t be many in Montrose still standing. The Skylanes in particular. Which were in far worse shape than Wilshire Village was.

    That said, well, what’s the point of pointing out the complexes that have problems? The city won’t do anything.

    Of course the city makes it hard for responsible owners to “remedy and repair” as I’m sure Cody can attest to.

    Many probably attempt to, get fed up with the city, and just try to sell the properties when the city turns around and says “clean it up.” Well, they tried to at one point. And got fed up with the city.

    Not that everyone does. But some do. So in that sense there are probably two sides to the coin as they say.

    Bottom line, again, is that slum landlords shouldn’t be too worried unless unless 1) they upset someone at City Hall or 2) someone wants their property and wants it condemned in which case it will be 4 days for the inspection and condemnation on the 5th day. The other landlords need to worry about 2) and remember Wilshire Village. And so, well,they need to send in their checks. Keep City Hall happy. And it will keep you happy. And don’t forget the check to HAA.

    Only one of the owners of Wilshire Village, by the way, engaged in “dirty tricks” to get the property condemned. Of course a second lien-holder wanted it condemned as well. Since they may have had the buyer. They definitely had the mayor’s ear so to speak. They used to work for him before he became mayor. When he ran Wedge Group.

    And of course who wanted to buy Park Memorial? One of the mayor’s buddies.

    So, suddenly, the inspectors went out. And plastered “condemned” all over the place and then evicted the tenants and homeowners. The latter took the city to court. The courts seem to agree with the homeowners. Not the city.

    And 2) by the way will become even more worrisome for some no doubt once the historical district people start dictating what can and cannot be with regard to the apartment complexes in the historical districts. There may be 3) to worry about. The homeowners want to get rid of the apartment complexes. So they send out the inspectors. And then the owners have to abide by whatever the Planning Commission dictates. And of course they can then start fining the owners $500 a day if they don’t abide by and don’t begin repairs and renovations. Ask Barry Klein. One of the many things no one knew, or knows, about what’s really in the ordinance. There’s probably a provision somewhere allowing the city to seize the property and sell it if the fines aren’t paid. To a builder of course. Who can pick up land real cheap and build some new townhomes on land that isn’t restricted to number of units. Or even a single family lot. In most areas,they can still put in two townhomes on the lot.

    One might wonder with that in mind if perhaps the Historic District Ordinance protects homeowners or homebuilders.

  • And let’s wait and see what happens at Garden Oaks Place when they do some cosmetic repairs and tell the tenants to keep their mouths shut or they’ll be evicted.

    I doubt you will see any condemnation or emergency evictions. Unless the owner upset someone at City Hall. Or someone wants the land. If the latter, count on condemnation. So what if it’s Christmas. It’s not safe for the tenants. The buyer who will suddenly come out of nowhere to save the poor owner who now only has vacant land would like to close the deal by New Year’s.

    More than likely they’ll get an occupancy permit. If they’re members of HAA, well, cosmetics count! If it looks safe, it must be safe. Or they will head off to Municipal Court. In a year or two. Depending on how good the owner’s attorney is.

    Again, this is a Buyer Beware state. And also a Renter Beware state. And an Owner-Who’s-Smart-Buys-City-Hall-and-Joins-TAA state.

  • Landlords are required by law to meet certain minimum standards in their buildings. And now those laws are being enforced. That’s a good thing.
    What’s not so good is that they’re trying to inspect EVERY apartment in the City; instead of concentrating on older apartments that really need attention.
    Another bad thing is that Texas law limits fines for code violations to $2k per offense. In many cases it’s cheaper for landlords to pay the fines than fix their properties.
    Then there’s the matter of funding. There are tax grant programs for the construction of low-income housing. But they prefer to subsidize new low-income housing on open land. The number of old complexes in Houston that they’ve helped rehab, is tiny in comparison to the need.

  • CA
    So what’s the next step?

  • MS – The next step, I think, is to bring disparate parties together to hash-out a long-term strategy for these places. Get apartment enforcement people in the same room as criminal law-enforcement; city attorneys; low-income housing groups; and other interested parties.
    It’d be best to get landlords in, too. But I doubt that’ll happen. Slum lords probably aren’t going to bother showing up to meetings like this anyway. Good landlords would show up – but they’re not the ones whose properties we’re trying to get fixed.
    If I were an at-large City Councilman, I’d be arranging meetings like this City-wide. As a Super Neighborhood President I am working on setting one up just for my area.

  • Great idea. When are you campaigning?