Even With Repairs, Poor Apartment Maintanence Drives Tenants Away

Residents of an apartment in De Moines, Iowa were saved from from eviction today by a massive home improvement project, but the future of the building still looks dubious. 

Conditions at the Sherman Hill apartment building have fallen far enough below city inspection standards that, without action, all tenants would have to face mandatory eviction.

Problems with the apartment included poor lighting in hallways, lack of cleanliness and upkeep, and insufficient smoke detection systems. Inspectors found over 70 issues in the apartment that endangered the building’s tenants. 

Floors, walls and ceilings were listed as in need of repair or replacement on the inspection, and many of the electrical systems were not functioning like they should. Loose asbestos was also found in the apartment.

In order to keep the building open, the owner hired a fleet of private contractors to bring the building up to code. Faulty lights were replaced and the stairs were cleaned up and redone. The building manager was seen working on last minute paint and plaster issues before the inspection as well.

The improvements did the trick, and inspectors are no longer requiring mandatory eviction of the buildings tenants. While this is a relief for some tenants who were worried about ending up on the streets, others are already preparing to move on. 

Many residents are worried that, now that the building has passed inspection, it will be allowed to deteriorate to its previous condition, especially since the threat of inspectors was the only thing that prompted action after years of problems. Half of the building’s residents have already left.

Negligence on the part of the building manager can be a serious problem for tenants. Apartment maintenance problems like poorly maintained carpets and bad plumbing can lead to mold, which endangers the health of people inhaling it. Poor electrical wiring can cause fires and blackouts. 

“For tenant health, carpets should be cleaned at least once a year to get rid of dust, dirt, and other health risks. Cleaning of buildings every 6 to 12 months in high traffic areas both helps with cleanliness as well as extend the lives of the carpets,” says Ivan Janklin of ProGreen Carpet. “Carpet cleaning gets rid of germs, the dirtiest parts of the house around either around the kitchen or the high traffic carpets.

Unless there are clear signs that the building owners are serious about making the building a healthy place to live, the repairs may prove only a temporary solution.

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