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CLE housing court docket fills as tenants live with interrupted utilities

CLE home powered by an extension cord
Posted at 10:29 PM, Nov 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-02 17:55:46-05

Cleveland Councilman Tony Brancatelli reported what he believes is an extremely hazardous situation in his ward, pointing to a home he believes was powered by an extension cord stretching across E. 75 Street.

Brancatelli showed News 5 pictures of the extension cord going from a home on East 75, to a home 150 feet away on Ottawa Avenue.

Brancatelli said both homes are owned by Scott A. Stettin and are occupied. He said water service to a least one of the homes had been interrupted.

News 5 made three attempts to reach Stettin, but our calls were not returned.  We also went to two addresses listed by the housing court and the City of Cleveland, but no one answered the door.

Scott Stettin contacted News 5 on Dec. 1 and claimed he no longer owns both properties, that they had been sold to his brother in Jan. 2016, and that his brother failed to put the parcels in his name.

In a Dec. 2 statement, Scott Stettin claimed he was not aware of this situation at the properties, and was "shocked and saddened about the dangerous conditions reported."

Stettin told News 5, he's now in the process of contacting his brother, trying to get him to complete the transaction.

Stettin said he will contact Cleveland Housing Court on Dec. 12 to address the two misdemeanor charges that have been filed against him, in and effort to get his name off of the properties, listed in both city and county records.

News 5 is in the process of verifying the sale of the homes.

Meanwhile, Brancatelli reports homes without proper utilities are deemed uninhabitable, according to city health department and housing code standards.

"This is an incredibly dangerous situation," said Brancatelli. "You have a hot electrical cord running across the street, it's a basic extension cord.  We're about to hit wintertime, can you imagine a plow truck coming by there, hitting that cord that's hot, a truck filled with gasoline, that's an explosion waiting to happen."

Brancatelli is concerned a growing number of residents may be living without utilities in an effort to keep rent costs down.

"We are having problems with folks, whether they're paying rent or not paying rent, the conditions that they're living in," said Brancatelli.

Cleveland Housing Court Judge Ron O'Leary acknowledged the problem, and said his court docket has now expanded to 25 pages, filled with potentially hazardous homes.

Housing court records confirm inspectors found violations at both homes.

O'Leary told News 5 accepting rent on a home without proper utilities is a danger, especially as we head into the bulk of the heating season.

"Tampering with utilities is a different type of hazard, either because of electrocution, or flooding, or gas leaks that could explode," said O'Leary.

O'Leary said tenants should not tolerate living without utilities, even if it means higher rent rates, safety should be the top priority.