LANSING Mich. (WLNS) – A deadly house fire in Lansing revealed the issue of un-registered rental properties across the city.
Officials said if the house on the 200 block of Cavanaugh Rd. that caught fire earlier this week was registered by the property owner, an inspection may have caught that there were no working smoke detectors.
Now it’s been deemed red-tagged by the city, but in this case, officials told 6 News that city involvement came too late.
“We do have a local housing ordinance that does require rental housing to be registered and inspected by the city,” Director of Economic Development and Planning for the City of Lansing, Brian McGrain said. “But again, we come across things that we were not aware of as rentals.”
Code Enforcers say that renting a home ‘off the grid’ is a dangerous thing to do.
“If we don’t get into the rental until and then, we don’t know if they’re safe or not,” Walter Allen said. “Sometimes the owners don’t even know if they’re safe.”
McGrain said that starts with a failure to register letter and could include a citation fee.
“We would start with a simple penalty and that could escalate, and it could in fact wind up in court if we need to go that far,” he said.
And Code Enforcement Officer Walter Allen said it rarely gets to that extent.
“We do go to court for these issues but usually, they would either register the unit or we would vacate it,” Allen said.
To register, owners need to provide basic information on the property, pay a registration and inspection fee, and then the city will walk through the property.
And while it may cost owners a small fee to register, officials said it’s well worth it. Especially considering a one-year-old boy just paid the ultimate price.
“The safety is what’s paramount and making sure that our team is able to get in and check these home to make sure that they’re quality, they’re safe,” McGrain said. “That’s really what’s important.”
6 News once again reached out to the property owners for the house fire on Cavanaugh Rd. and did not get a response.