Tenants, Landlords Both Responsible For Code Violations

A high grass and weeds housing code violation case opened for this house on South Main Street Sept. 5. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

Half the properties in Jamestown are rental units, which are the locations that receive the most citations for housing code violations in the city.

According to MyGov housing code violation reports, at the halfway point of the year, 67 percent of code violation came from non-owner occupied addresses while 32 percent came from owner occupied.

Last month, Vince DeJoy, city development director, said the areas of the city where they see the largest housing code violations are the blocks that have more rental properties. He said the streets with the most housing code violations is where the number of rentals is far greater than 50 percent.

So who is to blame for housing code violations at rental units — tenants or landlords?

DeJoy said it depends on the house code violation case because every situation is different. For example, the housing code category with the most violations is junk and debris with 188 cases, as of the end of June. DeJoy said most junk and debris cases come from tenants and seldomly from the owner of the property unless they are doing repairs and improvements and didn’t clean up properly when they were completed.

“When it is a rental property, I believe predominately it is the tenants fault,” DeJoy said. ” Landlords don’t come and leave junk and debris in the yard. Generally, the tenants have items that shouldn’t be on porches or the side of house and they’ve kept the property in an unkempt state, which gets the attention of the neighbors who call to complain.”

The second most code violation cases involve exterior maintenance, with 169. DeJoy said landlords are to blame for exterior maintenance issues.

“Many exterior violations involve houses needing to be painted because it is peeling or a deteriorated or rotten porch or it could be a roof, something along those lines. It is absolutely the responsibility of the landlord to address exterior maintenance issues,” DeJoy said.

The third most housing code violation in the city, through the first six months of the year, was high grass and weeds, with 80 violations. DeJoy said code violation cases involving high grass and weeds at rental properties it could be either the tenant’s or the landlord’s fault.

“In some cases, landlords have an arrangement with the tenant to mow, but ultimately it is the responsibility of the property owner to keep the lawn mowed to a responsible height and free of weeds and other unwanted vegetation,” DeJoy said.

City housing code violation reports can be viewed by going to app.mygov.us/task/city/cityhome.php?cityname=715.