City to begin basement cleaning and sanitizing this week for most vulnerable residents; one week for landlords to clean rental properties and avoid blight tickets


City to begin basement cleaning and sanitizing this week for most vulnerable residents; one week for landlords to clean rental properties and avoid blight tickets

  • Households that have a poverty tax exemption and over the age of 65, disabled and/or children aged 10 and under in the home are eligible for basement cleaning and sanitizing
  • Landlords are responsible for cleaning up their residential rental properties, and will be fined for non-compliance beginning July 20
  • DWSD now has 80 call takers as of Monday
  • DPW crews continue picking up flood-damaged items at 1,000 tons per day

DETROIT – After Mayor Mike Duggan last week outlined additional resources to assist the city’s most vulnerable residents who were impacted by the June 26th flooding, cleaning crews will begin rolling early this week. The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) finalized contracts over the weekend with seven companies to clean and sanitize those basements and is enhancing the partnership with Rocket Connections to have a total of 80 calls takers to respond to both water in basement calls and help schedule the clean-up services. Landlords, per city ordinance, are required to clean their rental properties and will begin to face fines Tuesday, July 20, if they have not made the living conditions safe.

Residents who have the ability to clean their basements should have done so already or do it immediately. Don’t wait for FEMA to arrive if there is a presidential disaster declaration as the only reimbursement will be provided. City resources will be used to help the most vulnerable residents – households with a poverty tax exemption (HPTAP) and are over the age of 65, have a disability and/or children age 10 and under inside the home – can call 313-267-8000 to request a city inspector come to their flooded home and begin the process for the cleaning and sanitizing.

Mayor Duggan also announced that the City will enforce compliance of property owners providing safe living conditions for their tenants. Landlords have until July 19 to clean and sanitize flooded dwellings, which provides three weeks from the rainstorm to get it done.

“Our responsibility is to help our most vulnerable residents during any crisis and the flooding is no different,” said Mayor Duggan. “We have taken steps to get crews ready this week. And, our renters have the right to live in a safe environment with hot water and a working furnace. We will make sure that landlords in our city are held accountable.” 

City helping most vulnerable residents

DWSD has received more than 23,000 individual reports of flood damage from across the city, about 1,000 of which are our most vulnerable residents. Households who still have water, mold, and other flood damage and meet the following requirements can request a city inspector to visit their home.

  • Approved poverty tax exemption and
  • Over 65; or
  • Have a disability; and/or
  • Children 10 and under in the household.

Within 48 hours of the call, one of the 60 inspectors from the Buildings, Safety Engineering, and Environmental Department (BSEED) or the Detroit Health Department (DHD) will visit the home to verify the conditions and determine what cleaning must be done to make the basement safe. After the inspection report, a contractor will be scheduled to do an assessment prior to completing the cleaning and sanitizing, which could take a few hours or an entire day depending on the level of impact. The city work will only make your home safe from health risks, such as sewage and mold, including removing debris, damaged drywall, and tile, and to clean, sanitize and dry.  Full restoration of the basement will depend on FEMA reimbursement to the homeowner if a presidential disaster declaration is made.

The City estimates there are about 1,000 households that are currently eligible for the basement cleaning and sanitizing eligibility. These residents will be contacted to begin the process. If you have not yet reported your flood damage for the June 26 rain event, residents can call 313-267-8000 or go to The representative will be able to verify your information, including if you have an approved poverty tax exemption.

The work required in each home is different. Due to the volume and the level of work needed, it will take a minimum of three months for eligible basements to be cleaned and sanitized.

Cleaning out debris for seniors and persons with disabilities continues

The City has hired additional crews to help residents who don’t have the ability to clean out the flood-damaged items in their basements and are seniors or persons with disabilities. Fifty full-time employees, 200 volunteers, and 12 teams from contractors are working seven days a week on this effort.

If you need help with cleaning out the flood-damaged items and meet these qualifications, call 313-267-8000 or go to

Landlords need to clean up residential rental properties

Landlords are required by city ordinance to maintain safe living conditions for tenants including no standing water, no mold, and working hot water heater and furnace. Beginning July 20, BSEED will inspect and issue blight tickets to landlords who are not compliant. The tickets will be $250 per day until compliant.

If you have not cleaned and sanitized your rental properties, it is recommended you do the following before July 20 to protect your tenants and be compliant with city ordinance:

  • Get rid of any dirty objects that cannot be thoroughly cleaned (when in doubt, throw it out).
    • DPW is doing bulk pick-up at the curb across the city in response to the flooding.
    • Make sure to separate types of items at the curb, such as electronics, clothing, and furniture – see the instructions at
  • Wash dirty surfaces and objects with warm, soapy water and clean with a bleach and water solution. ­­
  • Do not use ammonia – mixed with bleach it creates a gas that could be deadly.
  • Have the right safety gear like a mask, heavy work gloves, rubber boots, and protective gloves if sewage is involved.
  • Prevent mold by airing out the property, use fans to dry wet areas, open doors, and windows.
  • Remove and discard drywall and insulation that has been contaminated with sewage or floodwaters.
More call takers to improve response time

The City has expanded the partnership with Rocket to have a total of more than 70 call takers to handle the continuing volume of water in basement reports, as well as calls for basement cleaning by eligible households. This includes the 40 DWSD customer service specialists.

DPW continues bulk pick up

City and contractor crews picking up 1,000 tons of flood-damaged items per day. Residents who have the ability to clean out their basements should move the debris to the curb now. Crews will continue bulk pick up and no bulk ticketing is happening at this time in flood-damaged areas.

DWSD crews continue sewer cleaning

DWSD and contractor crews have been inspecting the city sewer system – focusing on the hardest-hit flood areas first. The crews are cleaning catch basins and the sewer collection pipes, when necessary, that have been clogged with flood debris. DWSD is accepting damage claims until August 10 and then will begin the process of reviewing each claim (if you called or submitted online, you will be mailed the full form to complete and attach supporting documentation for your claim). However, it is expected that in most cases the sewage and water backups were due to the flood overwhelming the sewer system, not because of a defect. The claim process also is being used to prepare for FEMA resources if a presidential disaster declaration is made.