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April 18, 1980 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1980-04-18

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The Michigan Daily-Friday, April 18, 1980--Page9
INSPECTION DEPARTMENT WORKING TO EASE PROBLEMS
City housing plagued by code violations

(Continued from Page 1)
inspection of a house on N. Thayer
which is rented to students.
HIS INSPECTION began in the
basement of the building, where he
searched for excessive storage of com-
bustibles (paper, boxes, mattresses,
etc.), examined the electrical panel,
and carefully scrutinized the boiler or
furnace.
Peterson's eyes glanced around, up,
Gand down each room he entered,
checking for wall switches in each of
the rooms, signs of.leaks in the ceilings,
and exposed wires.
"All you have to do is let your eyes
roam," Peterson explained, "because
you. know the things you are looking
for."
He checked under the sink for fire
chases, which are potentially hazar-
dous holes leading from the basement
to the floors above which serve as tun-
nels for smoke or fire. In the bathroom,
e checked for adequate water
pressure, cracks around the toilet or
tub, making frequent comments in his

notebook.
A CERTIFICATE of Compliance
(CC) is issued for those buildings that
pass the inspection. If violations are
cited, the owner is given.time to make
the necessary repairs, and a reinspec-
tion is made.
If the owner does not make a
reasonable effort to correct the
violtions,.his CC is suspended, which
-prohibits the owner from renting the
property. If the owner still takes no ac-
tion, a ticket is issued, and the owner
may find himself in court. An owner of
two buildings on Lawrence and
Elizabeth Streets was issued seven
tickets, totaling more than $1000, for
renting his building without a valid CC.
Inspectors occasionally encounter.
some unusual code violations. In one
case, a tenant had to walk outside and
around his house in order to use the
bathroom. On another occasion, a
house owned by a nearly blind man in
his 80s-who one inspector described as
"incapacitated"-was found to have
more than 40 code violations. The

house's attic was packed with com-
- bustible junk which, when removed,
filled much of the front yard.
According to reports filed by the in-
spectors, common problems in many
housing units appear to be the absence
of smoke detectors, latches on doors
which lead to the boiler or furnace
rooms, cracked walls and ceilings,
peeling paint, fire chases, and the ab-
sence of a second means of exiting a
building which is at least three stories
high.
BECAUSE RENTAL units are in-
spected no more frequently than every
two years, a house could gradually fall
into a very dilapidated state, and the
inspectors would not know anything
about it unless the tenant called them to
complain. Peterson said inspectors
cannot "police the premises." '
Arvil Patton, chief housing inspector,
explained, "Once we see a violation, we
can take care of it. The problem occurs
once we leave the place."
Yadlosky said he encourages tenants
to first call their landlords if they have
a complaint, and if that does not work,
to call the inspection department. An
inspector would then be sent to examine
the complaint.
Because of the housing shortage in
the city - the vacancy rate is about .7
per cent; and the Department of

Housing and Urban Development states
that a seven per cent vacancy rate is
healthy - and the immense work load
of the inspectors, the inspectors follow
a list of priorities. Fire-related
violations are at the top of the list.
Ceiling and wall cracks, which sit at the
bottom of the list, often go uncited.
TENANTS UNION attorney Cahill
acknowledges that this occurs, but
agrees with the practice.
"They always bend them (the
housing codes)," he said. "They have
to. You have to ignore the fact that a
room is two square feet smaller than
the required size rather than shut the
room down."
Yadlosky said a problem exists in
ambiguous language in the code, which
leaves it open to numerous inter-
pretations.
"I could probably go into any place in
the city and find minor violations," he
explained, "and five inspectors would
maybe inspect the places a little bit dif-
ferently."
HE SAID one method that has helped
resolve this problem is weekly
meetings with the inspectors to discuss
interpretations of the code. The result,
explained Yadlosky, is "more con-
sistency now than we ever had."
Jonathan Rose, director of Student
Legal Services, said he believes the,

high rent in the city is more of a
problem than poor maintenance of ren-
tal housing. (Figures compiled from
the 1970 census show Washtenaw Coun-
ty had the second highest median con-
tract rent in the country.)
But Rose also said he believes there
has not been a change in the quality of
housing, and stated that the inspection
system is not a sufficient means for
upgrading the quality of housing in the
city. He said the occasionally long
processes of inspecting a building,
giving warnings and issuing tickets
"allows the landlord to duck and
scurry."
Rose argues, instead, that tenants
should withhold rent if their landlords
have not been responsible to their
requests for repairs.

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Court OKs state
pxrimary preparation
LANSING (UPI)-The Michigan John Pirich, representing the clerks'
Court of Appeals vacated a temporary associaiton, said local governments
lower court order yesterday which only received partial reimbursement
blocked Michigan's presidential from the state for costs incurred in the
primary, but left the door open for fur- 1976 primary and there is no guarantee
ther consideration when a final decision they will receive any money for this
is reached. year's vote.
The appeals decision apparently will "If the Headlee measure doesn't ap-
allow a trial on the case to proceed in ply here, what does it apply to?" he
Ingham county Circuit Court. asked.
Judge Ray Hotchkiss last week Assistant Attorney General Robert
ssued a 'preliminary injunction Ward claimed the primary, is not
locking the May 20 primary. He ex- covered by the Headlee amendment.
tended that injunction yesterday and Even if it is covered, he said, the state
broadened it to halt preparations, for is not in violation unless it actually
the election as well. reduces the level of reimbursement.
Hotchkiss said he would issue a final State Elections Director George Her-
ruling April21. stek testified an estimated $500,000
The appeals court vacated both or- already has been spent on election
ders, saying the local government of- preparations, including ballot printing
ficials who' brought the suit did not and the handling of absentee ap-
prove they face "irreparable injury" if plications.
the primary is held. Michigan Republican Director
The panel ruled against staying Richard Adams testified the party has
proceedings in the lower court, no contingency plans .for selection
however, and said its decision "is presidential nominating delegates if the
without prejudice to an appeal on the primary is dumped.
merits from any final order the trial
court may enter."
The initial order by Hdtchkiss was
taken to the appellate court by state At- Do a T ree
torney General Frank Kelley.
The injunction was issued at the
request of the Michigan Municipal a Favor:
Clerks Association and the Michigan
.Townships Association which argued
the primary will be an expensive bur- ReCy CI e
den on local communities with no
guarantee of state reimbursement. Your Da1 ly
They charged the primary violates
the new Headlee Tax Limitation Amen-
dment which requires the state to pick
up the tab for services it forces local
governments to provide and questioned Celebrate Lost Class y
the validity of the election itself. CHANCE
Hotchkiss issued an injunction again-WITH
st the primary in a similar case four Ellen Mcilwaine
years ago, only to be overturned by the
higher cours. Tuesday, April
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CUSTOMER INFORMATION FROM GENERAL MOTORS

HOW GM "PROJECT CENTERS"
CREIFE CARS
FROM CONCEPT TO CUSTOMER IN THREE YEARS AND THREE BILLION DOLLARS

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THE DIAG
Rain or shine, the diag is a crossroad of much campus activity.
Nice weather brings frisbees, speeches, rallies, and a place
,for relaxation between classes. The "M" in the middle of the
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CEun TnT. HE AArICU.AN nAiL Y

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