Archive for January, 2013
Remembering when? February 2008 ( 5 years ago) Lorain County Photographers Blog did an interview with Bill Desvari ( the infamous Chief Building Inspector – now deceased) part of which touched upon “Occupancy Permits for Rentals”- the whole interview can be found here:
But in part:
At the time of this interview, Bill told me there were 10,340 rental properties in the city of Lorain. Ordinance 126.97 requires housing inspections every 5 years. It’s never be enforced, and at a charge of $50 apiece, why wasn’t it happening, since it could bring in over half a million dollars? Most of the owners live outside the city, and really don’t make too much of an effort to keep up their properties. He went to then-Mayor Craig Foltin about this, and it took 18 months for anything to happen. (Craig’s being a part of the LELA have anything to do with this?-hh)
When the ball finally got rolling, with then-Council-at-Large Tony Krasienko watching close to make sure things ran correctly, two inspectors were able to do 1700 inspections in 2006. But it wasn’t as easy as that. One inspector had health problems, another substance problems. For the most part, in 2006, there was only one inspector working at any given time. And that was made more difficult by the fact that most of the owners were hiding and not responding to inquiries.
The Landlord’s Assoc was asked to provide addresses. The Law director told him they couldn’t fine the people, as it was an infringement of 1st amendment rights. Mark Provenza reviewed it for a long time, and Desvari told him the fine is already in Ord. 1501.99, anything in Chapter 15 can be fined $1000, that it’s been there since 1978. He was not blaming Mark, but it hadn’t been used, and now they’re able to take people to court.
Craig Miller called him ( Desvari) and told him that KENT SUTTON only wanted to do exterior inspections.
Note that woman : Ah HA!!! there is that name again KENT SUTTON in order to jog the readers memory:
****The system is set up to fail, and it needs revamped*** said Bill Desvari ( and coming from him that is a revelation 😉
Truer Words were never spoken!!!!!!
Back to today and 5 years later: The Questions re occupancy
QUESTION – THAT WOMAN
I have, as the property owner , caulked the leaks, done my wiring and plumbing dry walled etc. – put in new fixtures prettied up the property and now I want an occupancy permit for rental.
What is the procedure and who authorizes the occupancy permit? Do they come into the property and inspect? How many rental occupancy permits are there currently in the city of Lorain? How do you keep track of the “rentals”- is there a rental register? For example according to my research there are 10,177 occupied rentals in this city are there the same amount of occupancy permits issued ( taking into account more than one rental in a unit). How many occupancy permits have been issued?
The Building Department oversees and authorizes the occupancy permit. If the Building Department approves of the work after the final inspection, they issue an occupancy permit. As long as the property owner invites the Building Department, they can inspect the inside of the home.
A property is supposed to ask for an occupancy permit as well as require a rental certificate. To try to keep track of rentals, we review the rental certificates we have issued. But, to stay on top of this, the number of employees are just not currently present to review rentals, not just the ones who have applied for a rental certificate.
Of the 3,693 vacant dwellings how does the dept. covering the “occupancy permit” know when any of these are rented?
Unless a rental certificate application is received, the City wouldn’t know if these dwellings are being rented.
Again, with the limited staff, the number of employees do not allow the Building Department to be proactive on this front. The Building Department does try to review any properties with “For Rent” signs or review the paper in order to match homes with rental certificates.
QUESTION THAT WOMAN
Does an occupancy permit cover those who “rent to own?”
I am not entirely sure of an answer on this. As stated previously, an occupancy permit is issued for anyone who applies for a permit with approval. “Rent to Own” is not actually a rental; the “tenant” is actually in the buying process. If the Building Department comes across a property they believe to be a rental, they request the owner provide documentation to show the “rent to own” status.
QUESTION – THAT WOMAN
How often does a landlord need to renew an occupancy permit? – Is it yearly, 5 years etc. or on the basis of new tenant occupying the building?
An occupancy permit last for 3 years, as long as ownership doesn’t change.
How much is an occupancy permit? $50 for rental; $75 for duplex
QUESTION – THAT WOMAN
What IS inspected in order to gain an occupancy permit? For instance mold, structural safety, electrical, plumbing???In depth please.
If it is rental, the inspectors follow the International Property Maintenance Code. I am sorry I cannot provide a more detailed answer.
FOLLOW UP QUESTION – THAT WOMAN
In the city of Lorain when and if a landlord asks for an occupancy permit – what is looked at by an inspector ( I know it has to meet the International property maintenance code) but if an inspector goes into the dwelling does he look at structure, electrical, plumbing to see if that meets the code- what do they “inspect” floor boards, roof plumbing what items on the check list are looked at to see if a dwelling meets the minimum code ?????
Not every inspector is certified in all areas. For example, our Electrical Inspector does not have the certification to inspect other types of work. However, for property maintenance code, the inspectors have a general checklist of what they inspect. I have attached the “Exterior Checklist” and the “Interior Checklist” for your review.
NOTE… INTERIOR INSPECTION CHECKLIST PDF FILE FOUND HERE
QUESTION THAT WOMAN
If a tenant calls for an inspection of the home is it accurate to say the inspector can only inspect the “complaint” for instance if it is the wiring that is an issue can they cite for rotting floor boards?
For a rental, the inspectors can cite for other concerns visible to the inspector. Typically, the tenant will point all the complaints to the inspector.
QUESTION THAT WOMAN
Is there a point of sale inspection in Lorain – if not why not- and is there any legal reason there cannot be a “point of deed transfer inspection” to negate the property from changing hands within a group or family to get around any point of sale inspection.
THE CITY ANSWERS
Not currently. Point of sale is used in other cities. As to my knowledge, no point of sale ordinances have been overturned.
QUESTION THAT WOMAN
PHOTO TAKEN MARCH 19TH 2011
Also re the question of blue tarps as roofs– is there any time limit as to how long a temporary roof fix is allowed? For example the one property on 329 Hamilton has had the temporary fix for 3 years-(NOTE: I wrote about this particular property in March 2011
Hurricane Sandy blew most of it away and they have now put up a new blue tarp- What are the rues if any for temporary fixes and does anyone inspect those temporary fixes as to times?
TODAY ‘S PHOTO JANUARY 30TH 2013
THE CITY ANSWERS
When the Building Department sees these types of homes, they send a notice to the property owner requesting the anticipated fix to the roof.
Ah that explains it : Driving Blind a probability????? Maybe the city could use some help? I know a judge that must not be seeing his handiwork as he tootles along in Lorain passing by another of George Schneider properties
Does the good judge ever drive past 1965 E 28th Street and wonder if the Building Dept and the City of Lorain will come before his court again with 1965 E 28th Street ?
and now it seems we have inspectors “Oblivious to the BLUES”- to be continued _ LORAIN IS FEEDING UPON ITSELF
Illustration Cat Scott SOURCE
QUESTION – THAT WOMAN
If I have done some work (for example) rewiring – is it up to me as the property owner to request an inspection?
The property owner MUST REQUEST AN INSPECTION.
QuESTION- THAT WOMAN
If so,( REFERRING TO PREVIOUS QUESTION) is the responsibility put on the property owner to contact the Building Dept. Is there any follow up on the building permits pulled as to the condition/ quality of work being done and in a timely manner?
Yes. At the bottom of the permit, several different job types are listed. When work is completed on these jobs,
“THE OWNERS ARE TO CALL the Building Department” for review. However, the Building Department may not know when work is completed until the owner calls.
QUESTION – THAT WOMAN
Can the property owner still refuse entry to the property for inspection even with a building permit ? Does that limit the inspections from the sidewalk only unless the house is open and unsecured?
Property owners can refuse entry by our inspectors.
Inspectors are free to do inspections from the sidewalk as well as inspections from the view of a neighboring property, provided the neighbor grants permission to go onto their property to view concerns. If the house is unsecured, the inspector can obtain search warrants in order to enter the property.
PDF FILE – EXTERIOR INSPECTION LIST FOUND HERE :
Exterior Inspection Checklist
FOLLOW UP QUESTION – THAT WOMAN
Just to be clear – are you saying if the work is done on the inside of the property by the property owner unless they agree to let the inspectors in to inspect the work you cannot inspect the work done?
I have attached “Entry to other structures” for your review. This document outlines the laws restricting access to private property by an inspector. But, to answer your question, the owner has to allow the inspector into his home.
The PDF file ‘ENTRY TO OTHER STRUCTURES ‘ FOUND HERE
Entry to other structures
FOLLOW UP -QUESTION – THAT WOMAN
In essence would I be correct in saying that “we in Lorain are going upon TRUST the property owner will call to have an inspection and if they don’t is there any recourse????
In talking with Mr. Klinar, over 3800 permits were pulled this past year. With the number of employees we have, we cannot check up on all projects to see how much progress is being done.
Plus, being invited in to review the work also complicates items. Therefore, with the limited number of employees, we wait until the homeowner requests an inspection. As for recourse, unless we inspect it, the City cannot do much.
Note TW …Handcuffed AND STUFFED comes to mind …….
To Be Continued
As Chief Building Inspector Richard Klinar answered a question put to him by yours truly at the Demolition Appeals meeting with:
” Mrs. Ritchey there is a “process” to be followed you can’t inspect the windows unless the walls are up”
Well! I was amazed and dumfounded!!!!! – I really hadn’t realized that would have been necessary ( for those not familiar with me this is pure sarcasm!).
Although my question wasn’t fully answered which dealt with are “all inside inspections based on a request of the property owner?” his mention of “process” did lead me to ask of the Administration – in particular Derek Feuerstein ( Chief of Staff) for the City of Lorain. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his quick responses to the following questions and information ( re PDF files) ( EMPHASIS MINE -TW)
QUESTION THAT WOMAN:
Hypothetically I have an older property that I have purchased which is in dire need of rehab– Can you please answer and or expand on the questions on the “process” I, as the property owner, goes through to bring the property up to “minimum” code?
Firstly: what exactly is the minimum code the City of Lorain follows- re electrical, plumbing, HV , structure etc. where would I find that information . Is asbestos and mold abatement taken into account in the minimum code for Lorain? If, as I was informed this morning, the state decides our codes why is it surrounding communities such as Lakewood seem to have a higher standard of what is acceptable in their communities?
The City of Lorain follows the Ohio Residential Code 2012 for their minimum standards. No asbestos and mold abatement is conducted. In speaking with a rep from the city’s health department, he indicated no policy in the State of Ohio dictates mold levels within a home. Our inspections, for construction, are based on the Ohio Residential Code 2012, but not for maintenance. Every city adopts their own type of maintenance codes; Lorain chose to adopt the International Property Maintenance Code.
QUESTION – THAT WOMAN:
Assuming I am rehabbing a property for possible rental- I am NOT a licensed and bonded contractor just a property owner who plans on acting as my own contractor – I pull a building permit to do the work – Is this a blanket permit or do I pull permits for electrical, plumbing structure separately? What is the cost of such a permit and how long is the permit good for.
The City of Lorain does not issue blanket permits. Each permit is for a specific job. Every permit is separate, no blanket permits are given. All permits are a percentage of the overall cost of the project. I have included a fee structure sheet for you.
NOTE THE PDF FILE FOR THE FEES CAN BE FOUND HERE
( also you will need to rotate the pdf view)
QUESTION – THAT WOMAN:
If the permit is good for a specified period of time and I have been unable (for various reasons) to accomplish any of the proposed work on the property can I pull another permit after the aforesaid permit expires – how many times am I able to do this- Is there any documentation given to the city the property owner has the funds to complete the project?
The permit is valid for one year. However, you must start the work within 6 months of being issued the permit. An individual with a valid permit can request for an extension for up to 6 months. If after this extension, the individual must apply for a brand new permit. The Building Department does not require proof of funds for repair in order to receive a permit.
Follow Up – QUESTION- THAT WOMAN:
How many times can a property owner apply for the permit can he/she just keep applying for a new permit into infinity or is there a limit to the number of times a permit can be pulled for the same property and job of work?
I have attached “Permit Approval code section” for your review on permits. According to section 105.4, two extensions can be granted. After those extensions, the code does not restrict anyone from filing a brand new application for a permit.
PDF File – Permit Approval Code found here
Permit Extension code section
to be CONTINUED
I sat in the audience of a meeting with regard to Demolitions on Jan 18th at Lorain City Hall. The process was very polite and controlled – The Board Members trying their level best to be responsive , polite and to give due process in order to shy away from “law suits” against the city due to not following the procedures.The actions were very deliberate and staying within given parameters.
That is how we are different nowadays from the old west – we couch our opinions so as not to offend so we aren’t dragged into another courtroom. Most of the business on hand was cut and dried , only three of the homes set for demolition had anyone speak for them.
One was the home covered in Busters House Blog
3620 Clifton, Lorain with photos purchased two years ago for TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS – judge for yourself if this can be brought to a livable SAFE- quality of life dwelling for $17,000. I sincerely hope so – let us hope it becomes the poster child for HOW REHAB SHOULD BE DONE!
It is my understanding that the owners of 3620 Clifton presented an acceptable plan to the Board and will have to bring proof of progress to the next meeting on February 28th.
I know what I thought as I listened and I have a bridge in Brooklyn too, but fair is fair they, the owners ( JOHNSON NATHANIEL BARBEE JOSEPH
240 BRACE STREET ELYRIA, OH 44035) were there appealing the demolition decision they wanted to be heard as is their right and they were.
Alright, so they may have not been exactly truthful when stating the week before they only owned the property for a year- it was two- and those back taxes well that was literally not answered . But they got their “stay of demolition” to give them a chance at rehab.
Then this chap came up to the microphone,he rose with difficulty from his seat, he stumbled,limped his way across the floor , his face clouded with anxiety. He looked like he needed to be cared for and seemingly having the weight of the world on his shoulders – I actually felt sorry for this poor old geezer– er that is until I found out it was the infamous George Schneider – he of numerous blog posts and owner of hundreds of properties in this community.
I don’t know who I was more annoyed with – myself– for almost being taken in by his demeanor or the fact Georgie Porgy was asking for yet another of his properties to be given a 2nd chance. The appeals board denied his appeal but I bet you anything you like George’s attorney – Brett English will be back on the case “appealing” to a higher court.( Watch this space)
As I sat there with other audience members, I realized there were three scenarios happening in those chambers- all having different agendas- There was:
The Board – trying to be fair and equitable giving chances and listening to the ones appealing within the framework of the “process” – their faces thoughtful and polite.
The Pleaders – give us another chance puleeeeeeeze ( for any number of “reasons” as to why their property deemed unsafe etc. should be given another chance –
The Community – with the glut of diseased and disgraceful housing in our neighborhoods- we sat there wanting MORE- wanting to say what we really thought – not to be constricted by PC thinking or silenced by “The Process”- our faces- if not the spoken word- reflected on how we truly felt .
The Good – The Bad – and The UGLY
Being the expat I am, I bring with me some terminology sometimes lost to my US readers and “community” . For more years than I care to remember I have “bitched” about the quality and lack of care given to the “rehabs” by the mega landlords who
“run their BUSINESSES of rental” in this community . Look on any of the streets in this old neighborhood the examples are there – there are those rehab to minimum standards- all that is “legally required of them”…. more on that later.
Before it had any special application to America, cowboy was used in England with the obvious meaning: “a boy who took care of cows.” Or he could have been a man, for boy implied not only youth and boyish attitudes but also low status.
Although the descriptive but uncomplimentary word cowboy was already around, Americans did invent two new meanings for it. The first, now forgotten meaning came during the American Revolution. It was the revolutionary patriots' term for pro-British raiders who operated in the boundary between American and British forces in Westchester County, New York. They harassed and plundered the rural districts; a later writer said;they went around in the bushes armed with guns and tinkling a cow-bell so as to beguile the patriots into the brush hunting for cows.
after the Civil War, when for two decades thousands of cowboys drove millions of longhorn cattle from Texas to the new transcontinental railroads in Kansas and Colorado. The English speakers who first settled the Southwest had learned the skills of controlling cattle from Spanish-speaking vaqueros, a name translated crudely as buckaroos.
But those who hired the minimum-wage, equal-opportunity horsemen for the big cattle drives of 1866-86 simply called them cowboys, a term attested as early as 1849, and that was the name that stuck. And though they were poorly paid and worked under the harshest conditions, or perhaps just because of those circumstances, the cowboy became the most enduring legend of the American West. Building on this legend, cowboy today still is used to mean someone who is reckless, impulsive, and dangerous
In Britain “cowboy” is a slang term for
An unscrupulous, incompetent, or reckless person in business, esp. an unqualified one. We have a lot of fly by night “so-called ” unlicensed contractors whose work is in the best scenario lacking in quality and in the worst case down right dangerous.
The cowboy builders , contractors and they can be a problem in my “old country”
Avoiding cowboy builders
The Department was established tos administer and enforce the provisions of the Lorain Building, Housing and Zoning Codes plus the National Electric Code and State Building, Plumbing and Elevator Codes.
The Department’s two primary functions:
•Plan Examination and
The Department registers building contractors, issues permits, maintains records, inspects all new construction and major rehabilitations engages in systematic code enforcement programs for existing properties and provides nuisance abatement to properties and buildings in disrepair.
To contribute to Lorain’s urban renaissance by preserving and strengthening neighborhoods through ambitious code enforcement.
To inspect structures for the purpose of enforcing the City of Lorain’s building, housing and zoning codes and to Ohio’s Building Codes, maintain uniform standards and requirements of residential, commercial and individual buildings.
•Foster higher levels of expertise in the building inspection department by encouraging education and growth among existing staff.
•Develop Housing Division to spearhead property maintenance and zoning issues.
•A Revenue Development to insure all funds currently allowed by legislation are collected for the common good and stability of the city.
•Re-establish City of Lorain Board of Building Commission to further reinforce standard for quality in residences, buildings, and structures throughout the City of Lorain.
THE QUESTION ? ARE THE INSPECTORS THE ONES HANDCUFFED?????? TO BE CONTINUED…….
In recent posts I have questioned the reasoning as to what we in the community , who have been asked to step up to stop the decline of the quality of life in this place we call home Lorain Ohio, can actually accomplish.
Mayor Ritenauer stated in a recent Morning Journal article”
Mayor Ritenauer wants the community to band together
Mayor Chase Ritenauer says community must stand against ‘unacceptable’ mayhem
Meanwhile, law-abiding citizens also must be aware of the justice system and demand prosecution to the fullest extent of the law, the mayor said.
and then the Editor of the same Morning Journal, Tom Skoch stated in his editorial:
“As the mayor emphasized, arresting thugs isn’t enough if they are quickly recycled through the justice system and dumped back on the street to cause more crime. Citizens need to urge prosecution and incarceration of criminals to the fullest extent of the law
Armed with a will, the time, tenacity and the ability to go in search of answers- thatwoman( me) who was also incensed at recent new news stories concerning alleged rape, drug deals gone bad , abandoned housing set off in search of “JUSTICE”!. I started looking at names and records of some of Lorain’s less than desirable criminal element and why they were on the streets, and who were the judges who had given them leave to continue “mayhem” in my community.
As with most things I research one thing led to another and I noticed a lot of
mention of PSI reports when searching the criminal records.
DEFENDANT IN COURT WITH COUNSEL; WITHDRAWS FORMER PLEA OF NOT GUILTY AND REQUEST FOR JURY TRIAL AND ENTERS A PLEA OF GUILTY TO: THE INDICTMENT WHICH PLEA IS ACCEPTED.
THE COURT HEREBY FINDS THE DEFENDANT GUILTY AND REFERS DEFENDANT TO THE LORAIN COUNTY PSI DEPARTMENT FOR A PRE-SENTENCE EVALUATION AND REPORT; BOND CONTINUED. TO BE INTERVIEWED AT LCCF WHEN DEFENDANT WILL REMAIN UNTIL NOV. 15TH IF NOT INTERVIEWED BY NOV. 15TH DEFENDANT ORDERED TO REPORT TO PSI DEPARTMENT WITHIN 24 HOURS OF RELEASE
What is PSI and just what do they do? so off I went on another search and found the following article -once again in the Morning Journal archives-:
Judge wants to hire PSI officers (with document) by Rick Payerchin
I am following through with the research on a criminal situation in Lorain and how the criminal process works. I came across the link aforementioned – can you please tell me the outcome of that situation as written in the Morning Journal? I am very concerned as to the “passing through” from our court system by judges, adult parole authority etc and the funding of such who send back into my community the criminal element and the number of re offences …. and therefore, as I am following one case in particular that is making headlines this weekend and how he has been passed through and who determines the level of punishment – I have noticed PSI seems to be heavily involved in the sentencing outcome, therefore I wish to learn more about them and their decisions and who is funding them.
Thanks to Commissioner Kalo who forwarded my email to Mr. Tim Lubbe I have some answers ( emphasis mine) from Tim Lubbe,Lorain County Court of Common Pleas, Court Administrator, General Division
After reviewing my responses, should you still have questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Some of the answers are simple, such as the outcome of the situation discussed in the Morning Journal article. Currently, there are eight Presentence Investigation (PSI) personnel that are managed by the Court. These individuals are paid for or funded out of a state grant. However, I’m not sure if that completely answers your question. For example, the headline of the article claims that the “Judges want to hire PSI officers”. Quite frankly, the Court never had any desire to be involved with PSIs. Nevertheless, the State of Ohio in balancing its budget shifted the responsibility for PSI reports to the local or county level via the Courts.
You indicate a concern about the criminal element being “passed through” the court system by Judges, the Adult Parole Authority, etc. and returned into your community. I would not offer an opinion on the Adult Parole Authority, as that is a department of the State of Ohio, and I can’t honestly speak for them. However, with respect to the Judges, I believe they share your concern about criminals “passing through” the system.
I think your next question is also related to this issue. You are interested in who determines the level of punishment. Unfortunately, there is a fairly pervasive misperception that Judges unilaterally control the outcome of criminal cases. On many occasions I have heard Judges express their frustration over the constraints imposed upon them, and in my view, these constraints do affect the revolving nature of our criminal justice system.
Just last year, there was another significant erosion of the Judge’s autonomy following the passage of H.B. 86. The law in Ohio now specifies that if a criminal defendant is found guilty of a 4th or 5th degree felony, there is a presumption that the defendant will be sentenced to community control, i.e. not jail or prison. Therefore, irrespective of what sentence a Judge may prefer to issue, he or she must follow the law.
Your final question raises a concern, that the PSI department seems to be heavily involved in sentencing outcome. The PSI department actually has no control over sentencing. The PSI department’s role is governed by statute.
Essentially, they are required to investigate the defendant, and report certain information back to the Court. Although the PSI department does not control sentencing, they do have an impact on the criminal defendants in your community.
Under Ohio law, before a defendant can be sentenced to a community control sanction, a PSI report must be produced for the Court. At the time the State of Ohio was responsible for producing PSI reports they had allocated approximately 3 times the amount of money they are currently providing to Lorain County through grants. With their resources, the State would typically produce a PSI report within 30 days. As soon as the Court received the PSI report, the defendant could be sentenced.
At a minimum, that individual would be placed upon probation and subject to review and supervision. Under limited circumstances, if certain factors where met (remember the limitations placed upon the Judges), the defendant may even be sentenced to jail. However, as a result of reduced funding, which equates to personnel, it currently takes the Lorain County PSI department somewhere between 60 and 90 days to deliver a report to the Court. While the Court is waiting for the PSI report, the defendant is in the community, not on supervised probation, and quite often committing additional crimes.
Nevertheless, I can attest that the Court continuously strives, where possible, to improve these circumstances. Also, I would encourage your involvement as a citizen in doing what you can both locally and at the state level.
So there we have it – Is it time to “talk to the State of Ohio” as to how their decisions are compromising our quality of life – is that the very least we can do???? ?