Officials Saying Blow the Whistle on Non-Licensed Landlords

By KBJR News 1

October 7, 2013 Updated Oct 7, 2013 at 5:30 PM CDT


Duluth officials are asking renters and neighbors to blow the whistle on unlicensed landlords.

Residences across Duluth are being rented out by unlicensed landlords.
These units are not being checked for smoke alarms, egress windows or proper electrical measures.

"We launched a new initiative to discover and to put into compliance illegal rentals across the city it's an annual problem," says Deputy Fire Chief Charles Smith.

Laura Garrett of Shiprock Management says obtaining a license is a necessary step in landlord accountability.

"It eliminates deteriorating properties in Duluth and helps to maintain property value...because you're going into the property checking in on it.
Some tenants won't call in maintenance issues even though they're required to and if you don't call it in it can just snowball into something worse."

Officials say units without a license could be potential fire hazards leaving tenants unsafe.

"It wouldn't be considered a legal bedroom so there's no way escape the bedroom other than the door if there's a fire or something like that," says Smith.

"So therefore that's an illegal bedroom and the person would have a hard time escaping if there were a fire," adds Garrett.

But some say obtaining a license isn't as easy as one may think.

"It's expensive. It's expensive to get registered to do this and make sure but it's important," says Nick Garramone of Edward Jones Rentals.

Barbara Montee, President of the Duluth Landlord Association agrees the fees are steep.

"There's a thousand dollar fee if you are going to rent to a single family, there's a three thousand dollar five hundred fee if you're going to become a multi–tenant property."

Garramone and Montee both have proper licenses for their properties but Montee suspects safety is not always the reason for license enforcement."

"I believe in part to discourage people from taking a property and making it into a rental."

Montee says some are unwilling to accept the abundance of college students occupying their neighborhoods.

Either way...

"That's what the city says. That's what you have to do," Garramone says as a final thought.

To check your rental or report on a suspicious rental contact the Life Safety Division of the Duluth Fire Department.

Posted to the web by Gabrielle Ware