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200+ landlords attend workshop to learn about amended Rental Ordinance focused on lead safety


200+ landlords attend workshop to learn about amended Rental Ordinance focused on lead safety

  • Amended ordinance approved by Council keeps Detroit tougher on lead safety than other cities
  • The Building Department hosts Landlord Educational Forum to educate landlords about efforts to make rental units safe
  • Ordinance rewards compliant landlords, increases penalties for non-compliant ones
  • Builds on efforts that have reduced child lead poisoning in Detroit by 90% in past 20 years

DETROIT – More than 200 landlords on Friday attended the first Landlord Educational Forum hosted by the city’s Building Safety, Engineering & Environmental Department (BSEED) since City Council approved an amended rental ordinance on Tuesday. The large number of participants in Friday’s virtual workshop showcases the importance of landlords working with the city to ensure Detroit  access to quality, lead-safe housing. 

“We wanted to hit the ground running and are very encouraged by today’s turnout.  We see it as a sign that landlords across the city understand the need to make sure their properties are up to code and don’t pose lead safety risks,” said BSEED Chief Enforcement Officer Jessica Parker. “We’re taking an educational approach with landlords to ensure tenants are safe and are also prepared to enforce the modified ordinance’s tougher penalties when necessary.”

The updated ordinance was adopted based on the recommendation of BSEED, which had incorporated significant input from landlords and advocates. Under the new guidelines, the City of Detroit maintains its role as one of the strictest in the nation on requiring lead compliance from landlords.  BSEED staff surveyed approximately 20 other major cities and found that Detroit was the only one to require regular risk assessment analyses for rental properties.  

The ordinance’s focus on lead safety is part of the city’s multi-faceted efforts to reduce lead exposure, especially in children, whose cognitive abilities can be impaired at younger ages.  Over the past 20 years, the number of children that test positive for elevated blood lead levels each year has gone down by more than 90 percent, according to State of Michigan data. In 1998, more than 16,000 children tested positive, compared to about 1,400 in 2018, the most recent year for which data is available.

To receive a Certificate of Compliance to operate as a rental property, properties must be inspected and determined to be safe. To achieve this compliance, the city conducts regular inspections, educates those landlords who are non-compliant and enforces when necessary, through tickets and fines.   

Key provisions in the new ordinance include:

  • For those landlords who show good faith efforts by performing interim controls, such as painting over or encasing lead paint, or removing it all together, the ordinance will require risk assessments every three years, as opposed to every year. In a survey of 20 other cities and HUD, Detroit still has one of the strictest rental ordinances regarding lead inspections.     
  • For properties that are federal government-supported and inspected, the ordinance also allows for those properties to be considered compliant with the city if they have passed a federal compliance inspection, which includes lead compliance. This eliminates any unnecessary duplication of inspections.  
  • For those landlords who have been doing nothing to address the lead in their properties, there will be more significant fines​. If a child tests positive for elevated blood lead levels,​the landlord could be fined  up to $2,500 and face possible misdemeanor charges​ if they are not in compliance with the ordinance.  The ordinance also allows Council to know on a yearly basis the status of known cases of Elevated Blood Lead Levels (EBLL) in children in rental properties. 

“The ultimate goal here is code compliance, most importantly, making rental properties lead safe to protect children and families,” said Dave Bell, director of BSEED. “These changes will help us achieve that by providing carrot-and-stick incentives for landlords to come into compliance and keep tenants safe.”

The key is balance and insuring safety for all residents of rental properties and employing the workforce to handle the inspections needed to hold landlords accountable and compliant, Bell said. “We think these are all common-sense modifications to the ordinance that will result in greater safety, better living conditions for tenants, and reduce financial burdens on responsible landlords,” said Bell.

For Landlords

How to register your rental property

BSEED is encouraging landlords to register themselves online: https://aca-prod.accela.com/DETROIT/Default.aspx Per the ordinance all rental properties in the City of Detroit are required to be registered and have Certificate of Compliance. Failure to do so could result in fines.

For Tenants

How to put your rent in escrow if landlord is not compliant

The updates to the rental ordinance ensure that tenants in the City of Detroit have a safe place to live. If a property does not have a Certificate of Compliance, tenants have the right to sign up for the City of Detroit rental escrow program. Applications can be found on the BSEED website: https://detroitmi.gov/departments/buildings-safety-engineering-and-environmental-department/bseed-divisions/property-maintenance/rental-property/rental-property-escrow

How to verify if a property is registered or has a Certificate of Compliance

To find out the registration and compliance status of the property you are living in, go to: https://detroitmi.gov/webapp/rental-map
If a rental property does not have a Certificate of Compliance or there is a complaint, call 313-628-2451 or submit the complaint via https://app.smartsheet.com/b/form/efa41296fdc646dcadc3cbca2d6fd6ac


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