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Landlords will face tougher regulations in Grand Rapids

Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio
There are about 4,000 vacant homes in the city of Grand Rapids. In February, Grand Rapids Schools had to cancel classes for several days after a major snow storm because of unplowed sidewalks. Under new rules, owners will need to register vacant homes.

City Commissioners voted today in favor of controversial changes to the housing code.

“In light of the foreclosure crisis and the 70-percent increase in the number of single family rentals in the city, we recognize that we’ve got to do something to protect our housing,” Grand Rapids City Commissioner Ruth Kelly said prior to the vote, “It’s our family infrastructure; it’s what we live in.”

The new rules require landlords to register rental properties more often. They also require all rental units get an inspection. Before, only rental properties with two or more units got inspected.

 “In the end this is a positive thing for our neighborhoods,” said Tyler Nickerson with the Grand Rapids Area Coalition to End Homelessness. Housing advocates say the rules are needed to make sure rental properties are safe for families to live in.

“It will definitely help kind of prevent blight, maintain property values, and ensure quality housing for tenants,” Nickerson said.

Landlords would rather have seen the city go after those who repeatedly violate the housing code instead of instituting more regulations. Before, single family rental homes only got inspected if a renter filed a complaint. But commissioners agreed the complaint-based system wasn’t working.

Several Michigan cities have already adopted similar rules.

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