LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — In a meeting Monday night, the Lansing City Council discussed the “red-tag crisis” that has plagued numerous apartments in the city.
Council members submitted more than 20 questions prior to this meeting for code enforcement officials.
For months, 6 News has been covering an onslaught of issues going on at apartments throughout the city, primarily at Holmes Apartments, Autumn Ridge Apartments, and Marvin Gardens Apartments.
With issues from broken heating to ceilings caving in, locals have shared their varying situations, hoping that something would be done.
In October 2022, residents of Marvin Gardens Apartments were having issues with their heat being shut off.
Then in November, a resident invited 6 News into the complex to see the unsafe and unsanitary living conditions that residents were facing. There were urine stains in the hallway and cockroaches infesting apartment units.
City records show that the Marvin Gardens complex has changed hands nearly 10 times over the last 20 years.
The newest owner, Simtob Management and Investment said things were going to change.
However, on March 30, the City of Lansing announced a lawsuit against Simtob Management to recover money spent on hotels for displaced residents.
The lawsuit came a week after the city condemned Holmes Apartments, one of Simtob Management’s other properties.
“Asking for recovery of damages so that we can cover the cost of displacement of the tenants and any other work that goes on there. So we want the injunction, we want the place padlocked, and we want the place repaired,” said Jim Smiertka, the attorney representing the City of Lansing.
The city is asking for at least $25,000. Smiertka said the lawsuit should serve as a warning to any bad landlords in Lansing.
In an interview on March 27, Lansing Mayor Andy Schor said that the city will be looking at all the properties that the company owns.
“This is a case of a landlord who just is not keeping up their properties but is still collecting rent. We’re going to do a top-to-bottom review of the properties from this landlord to see if there are any others out there that they own. If they’re a bad actor with these properties, we are going to look at all of them,” Schor said.
During the transition process as some residents moved to their replacement apartments, they discovered they were in fact pink-tagged, and then they were forced to go to a hotel.
Additionally, tenants at the Autumn Ridge Apartments, which are not owned by Simtob Management, had issues with their heat, one woman even had her heat turned off due to a gas leak.
New information from the city shows the complex has been operating without a valid renter’s certificate since 2017.
City officials say the apartment complex has more than 600 units and each one is being rented out without the proper legal documents.
The city says the apartment complex is not up to code and some of the units have been marked as unlivable.
Currently, 26 units are red-tagged as unlivable and some of them have been non-compliant since 2019.
In efforts to bring the apartment up to code and to get a valid certificate, the city is currently in a legal battle that has been going on for four years. But as that drags on, the ones who suffer are the people who live there.
6 News reached out to the owners of Autumn Ridge Apartments, and they gave the following response:
“We strongly disagree with any narrative that Autumn Ridge is operating without a valid renter’s certificate since 2017 because the rental certification dispute was litigated and resolved last year.”
They also claim Autumn Ridge is “in compliance with the city’s rental certification process and fully expects renewal rental certificates to be issued once all legitimate items identified in the recent relevant inspections are complete.”
To make everything more complicated, Scott Sanford, the City of Lansing’s manager of the Code Enforcement Office, submitted his notice of retirement in February.
According to Sanford, “politics” got in the way of his job.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m.