a. - Regarding Criminal Charges
For problem properties we issue criminal charges (tagging) on the very first instance we observe a violation.
b. - Regarding Charging for Excessive Consumption
This is a new tool the City Council gave us that went into effect January 1, 2004. If code inspectors have to make repeat visits to a property, we send a bill and if not paid, the bill is assessed to the property owner's property taxes.
c. - Regarding Sec. 45.04 Nuisance Abatement Order
This is a City ordinance that says no property owner shall allow a nuisance. There is a very long definition of what a nuisance is. Suffice it to say, a nuisance is anything that bothers or annoys more than just one neighbor. If the nuisance activity continues, after the property owner receives a notice to discontinue the unacceptable behavior, we charge a misdemeanor.
d. - Regarding Sec. 617.80 Nuisance Abatement Order
This is a State law that says no property owner or occupant shall maintain or permit a nuisance. Once again a nuisance is defined as anything that bothers or annoys more than just one neighbor.
Under the State law a court can actually take someone's property away from them for up to a year. Because this is such a serious sanction, the State law requires two prior nuisance incidents, provable by clear and convincing evidence, then a city attorney 30-day warning letter, then a third nuisance incident after the 30 days is up, before bringing the court case.
So far every property has quieted down after getting the 30-day letter and the City hasn’t had to ask a court to take a property away yet. This state law defines nuisance activity to include criminal activity such as drug dealing, prostitution, etc.
e. - Regarding Rental Registration Revocation
This is another new tool the City Council gave us that went into effect January 1, 2004. If there is a single nuisance incident or there are excessive code inspection visits, a Notice of Intent to Revoke is mailed to the landlord. If the landlord then cooperates and abates the nuisance, agrees to better lease management practices, and allows an interior inspection, the intent to revoke can be withdrawn. If not, then the City Council revokes the landlord's license to do business and renting without the license is a crime.
f. - Regarding City Attorney Initiated Evictions
We have used this law a dozen times and been successful each time.
g. - Regarding City-initiated Tenant Remedies Actions
We have used this law hundreds of times and been successful every time. We can start a lawsuit whenever a rental property has outstanding code or nuisance violations. The first court hearing has to be within 10 days. There are no jury trials.
If the landlord admits the violations exist (or the Court so determines), the landlord is given a reasonable period to comply, or face heavy fines. In extreme cases the Court temporarily places the property in receivership, has the receiver make repairs, and charges the costs to the landlord's property taxes.
The City has a $200,000 repair fund to front the repair money, which gets replenished by property tax assessment against the owner.
h. - Regarding Real Estate Seizures
Although this law has been on the books since 1991, it has never been used. A landlord who refuses to evict a drug-dealing tenant can have his/her property forfeited. Return to Problem Properties