Are St. Paul's rental property inspectors precise, or just picky?

Is St. Paul too nitpicky when it comes to inspecting apartment buildings? Anyone who has ever lived next to a "problem property" or tried to complain about an inattentive landlord would say otherwise, but some residential building owners say that's just their point. Full Story
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Kate

Saint Paul, MN

#1 Feb 12, 2011
Too nitpicky? Duh!!! The city is being sued back to the stone age by many St. Paul landlords in Federal court. I doubt they would spend the money if the city was not doing something wrong or unethical.
Just a guy

Minneapolis, MN

#5 Feb 13, 2011
Thrall wrote:
Hey, didn't I just read a big article two weeks ago about some slumlords that just refused to respond to complaints? And the city couldn't really force them to comply??!! What the #@!$? Fine the good guys, and the bad ones get off.....kinda like gun control. Only law abiding citizens will turn in their guns. You go St. Paul, calling a vindictive, petty tyrant 'overzealous'. Yeah, wait, is that rain running down my back? And why is your fly open?
Yeah it is a problem, especially the suburbs. You can have one slumlord building or "affordable housing" complex and it makes the whole surrounding neighborhood start to feel like a mini ghetto for the local homeowners. Then the absentee property owners have the gaul to complain about the town and the residents attempts to keep their areas from going into decline. Freedom of the individual over the welfare of the community. Capitalism is so grand.
STP Landlord

Chaska, MN

#7 Feb 13, 2011
Great article. As an STP landlord I have been subject to a terrible inspector. From the word go this person was an a**hole. Right out of the gate I was verbally reprimanded for not calling him sir and holding the door for him. And he was clearly racially motivated. In the end, along with putting up with all his sharp and unwarranted commentary and criticism I was labeled a class C and had to get (and pay for) an inspection the next year because I had 3 violations. You know what the most egregious of the 3 violations was? A brown grocery bag of recyclables in a common hallway labeled as a fire hazard. I get that on a certain level but in context It was the day before recycling day and in a hallway that is not the main entrance and nobody uses...kind of like a back door. I did not complain back to the city, instead choosing to just do what I needed to do to get this person out of my life. It was a waste of taxpayer money and my personal time. I am glad the city is trying to do better and folks are speaking up. I wish I knew about the get-together. And I must note the inspector I had the second year was a quality person.
JEROME

Riverview, FL

#8 Feb 13, 2011
The St. Paul Building inspectors Dept was corrupt. Lets hope it is getting straightened out. About 15 years ago, I was asked to be executor of a friends estate. People started breaking into the unoccupied St. Paul home, so I boarded up the windows and doors. That was a mistake, because it attracted the building inspector, who put a condemnation notice on the door. I met with him and he came up with a list of repairs, so extensive, that it only made sense to tear the house down and sell the lot. With in 3 days, I was contacted by an individual who offered to buy the property for a low ball price. With tear down, the only other option, I sold the home to him. At closing, he revealed that he played poker every Friday night with the building inspector. The house was flipped 2 more times between other friends of the inspector and then sold to a naive amateur restorer who lost over $50,000. repairing and selling the home, in spite of not having to do nearly as an extensive amount of repairs, as I had been told by the inspector, must be done.
Humble Guy

Saint Paul, MN

#9 Feb 13, 2011
One of our rental properties was flagged during inspection, with one "major" violation was our tenant had a mattress in the basement. Why should that be an issue, and if it is an issue, shouldn't we understand the rules of the game ahead of time? One inspector said that they only give single-family dwellings a "C" rating, which means an inspection every year...Which means, every year, a licensed technician must test the boiler for CO2....Which costs $350, on top of the annual inspection license.

Can't these folks at the city be reasonable? Do they want to drive these properties into foreclosure?
Kevin G

Saint Paul, MN

#11 Feb 13, 2011
Remove the subjective language in all the ordinances. Interpretations of law and, dare I say ignorance of it, seem to be the cause of most of the concerns of the property owners, along with uneven and vindictive application. Create one set of rules for each building classification and everyone is happy. Personalities will always be in the mix but with strong and CLEAR ordinances they are trumped by LAW. Done.
NUTSTOU

Riverview, FL

#12 Feb 13, 2011
Humble Guy wrote:
One of our rental properties was flagged during inspection, with one "major" violation was our tenant had a mattress in the basement. Why should that be an issue, and if it is an issue, shouldn't we understand the rules of the game ahead of time? One inspector said that they only give single-family dwellings a "C" rating, which means an inspection every year...Which means, every year, a licensed technician must test the boiler for CO2....Which costs $350, on top of the annual inspection license.
Can't these folks at the city be reasonable? Do they want to drive these properties into foreclosure?
The answers are NO and Yes in that order
Donald

Saint Paul, MN

#14 Feb 13, 2011
So let me get this strait, we have 144 city employees collecting millions in salary, benefits and who knows what else, working in this department, in a city this small?
Motive

Saint Paul, MN

#15 Feb 13, 2011
Have any of you ever wondered if $$ payoff is involved when proerties that clearly need repair are issued a c of o. A property on the NW corner of selby/dale appears to have many violations. Feeling scrutinized?? Check out this place. Talk w/ and recruit occupants to share their housing conditions for the news reporters. How many others might there be w/ same approach to maintenance and mgmt. You may have a discrimination Lawsuit fellas based on what appears to be selective enforcement with lucrative motive.
Dingo someone who knows

Mexico

#17 Feb 13, 2011
What the owners and the commenters don't know is the elected beat up the inspectors on a regular basis for not being tougher. The inspectors are critized constantly by the council president for not charging excessive inspection fees, writing tags and enforcing harder. When asked in public the electeds don't support the inspectors. The inspectors are in a no win position. It is not unusual for the council president to call inspections every day to demand the inspectors do exactally what the owners are complaining about. UNLESS THE OWNER IS A FRIEND OF THEIRS, THEN THE INSPECTOR IS ASKED TO LEAVE THEM ALONE. THE TRUTH.
Eastsider

Saint Paul, MN

#18 Feb 13, 2011
Never disagree or challenge the inspector , or you'll end up on their 'hit list'. Got sighted for having a pallet of bricks in my yard, 30 feet from the alley. So moved the bricks inside the fenced portion of my property, still not good enough. Went to court to fight the citation. Lost;
given 30 days to get rid of brick, plus had to play $125.00 fine. The kicker was the prosecuting
attorney said "I wouldn't fight this if I were you, you won't win and it'll cost you more in fines." From the inspectors and their bosses to the courts, nothing but threats and intimidation.
Also the 'inspector gem' had to drive past some properties that look like third world slums, and did nothing.
Wish my house was worth something so I could sell and move out of St. Paul.
Sherry Johnson

Minneapolis, MN

#19 Feb 13, 2011
There's a need in St. Paul for the Department of Inspections to be in contact with neighborhood groups, as well as landlord-groups, as featured. I would hope Cervantes would consider such an "open forum" that would enable block clubs and ordinary neighbors to voice their opinions. That might help focus the Department on the REAL problem landlords.
Bert

United States

#20 Feb 13, 2011
Thrall wrote:
Hey, didn't I just read a big article two weeks ago about some slumlords that just refused to respond to complaints? And the city couldn't really force them to comply??!! What the #@!$? Fine the good guys, and the bad ones get off.....kinda like gun control. Only law abiding citizens will turn in their guns. You go St. Paul, calling a vindictive, petty tyrant 'overzealous'. Yeah, wait, is that rain running down my back? And why is your fly open?
That wasn't St Paul, is was in one of the "Brooklyn's". Different city, different system and rules I suspect.
Hank

Saint Paul, MN

#21 Feb 13, 2011
The real issue here is that there was write up in the paper, so now the city is trying to look good. And the only way they can look good is to go after the landlords they know will spend the money and address the problems right away. They know the bad ones will not. So they find every little thing they can document and then say to the public "see, we found these problems, and we are making sure that they are being takin care of" The more problems documented and fixed, makes it appear as though the city is really cracking down on the issue, when in reality the problem is still the same, The good guys are taking the shaft for what the bad guys are doing.
Channel 5 guy

United States

#22 Feb 13, 2011
I delt with these idiots in Mpls(does matter which city) for 20 years and two things were true with these goverment jokes 1. give them a clipboard and a badge and the power went right to their(empty) head. 2. point out a mistake they made and NEVER would thet admit it and than when you pushed it by faxing copies of their own codes to them lookout, they come gunning for you. I am no longer in the business but friends have told me of hundreds of new laws have been passed that helped accomplished one thing, HIGHER rents.
Hank

Saint Paul, MN

#23 Feb 13, 2011
The city should focus more of their energy on fixing the potholes and streets in St Paul. The streets here are some of the worst in the country and I have traveled to 36 states in the last 10 years. Oh yeah i forgot.The street crews only work 4 hours a day and hang around convience stores the other 4. St Paul should worry more about what their employees are doing. I wonder if city employees are on city property cleaning the ice dams off those roofs. Somehow I doubt it
keith

Prineville, OR

#24 Feb 13, 2011
pay the bribes ....its part of business in St. Paul..job security for gvt workers...when we get inspected we just leave a twenty on the floor and some how its gone when the inspector leaves...
George W

South Saint Paul, MN

#25 Feb 13, 2011
Once you are written up 1 time, you are on their list, and they will write you up for EVERY little thing. It seems they were at my rental property everyday to write a new citation. After driving past many other properties that were worse! I think they keep themselves busy targeting certain properties at a time, so they don't have to actually drive around finding other properties. My parents live next to a house that is a rental and the owner has not done a thing sine he purchased it in 1993! the yard is always a mess, the porch is falling off the house, there is a huge ice dam right now on the roof, there are always mice running around, and NOTHING has ever been done. Even AFTER my dad called the city!!! They are just another crooked govt. agency. The inspectors for some reason act as they are above you, and the rest of the world. Come on, you are a city inspector! lol...
OpenMinded

Minneapolis, MN

#26 Feb 13, 2011
Instead of all St. Paul Homeowners out there complaining, sue the City in Federal Court under 42 U.S.C. 1983 Civil Rights Violation. If we fill the Courthouse with lawsuits the City should get the message as there are already 3 Federal Lawsuits against DSI and their inspectors.
Mikie

Brandon, FL

#27 Feb 13, 2011
St. Paul does not need 75 inspectors to handle 6,000 complaints per year. That pencils out to 6 complaints per inspector.

Senseless government overstaffing to build departments and supervisor salaries.

Spending someone else's money is so easy and there are soooo many important issues out there....unmet needs....possible dangers to women and children.....give us more $$$ to meet the "public's demand for more services" would ya"?

If the inspector does not find something, they are not inspecting enough. Too many inspectors, with too much time, will look for minutae. I saw it in the Army. Gotta find something wrong....

Cut inspectors and life will get better for everyone, including taxpayers.

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