CLEVELAND — Michael Shorter is a Cleveland landlord who reports he's now been left with more than $40,000 in repairs to his rental home after tenants receiving Section 8 HUD rental assistance abandoned his home in January causing prolific damage.
Shorter said he contacted the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority in February to report the rogue renters but told News 5 he was given little help.
“CMHA and the directors, it seemed like they were turning a deaf ear and a blind eye to my situation,” Shorter said. “When I walked in here, I was just really disappointed because I really gave my heart to that family.”
“All the pipes busted in the house and the upstairs. The floors are buckled up and everything, and there’s water damage all throughout the house. From the first week, they were tearing up the stairs, and as they were moving in they tore the door frame off.”
Landlord Association Leader Ben Rosolowski told News 5 CMHA is in the process of trying to provide landlords who accept Section 8 vouchers with more resources. He said more than a year ago CMHA launched a Mobility and Landlord Outreach Coordinator to help with tenant issues, but Rosolowski believes that position needs additional staffing hours.
Rosolowski said CMHA must reduce the time it takes to process Request for Tenancy Approval, or RFTA's. He said too often Section 8 landlords and tenants are left waiting to fulfill critical housing needs.
"We’ve seen 45 to 90 days for some landlords, and we must address this. this can not take that long, we’re leaving people on the street," Rosolowski said. “CMHA needs to get involved somehow with a move-out inspection and transfer of possession, that seems to be the biggest critical issue, and I think if tenants were held accountable it would be better."
Rosolowski is also calling for a 24-hour emergency inspection option for housing providers when lease violations are obvious, and hold participants accountable with proposals for termination. He also believes CMHA should open termination hearings to the public and have housing provider participation with evidence.
CMHA Chief of Staff Jeffrey Wade responded quickly to News 5 and said inspectors will be on the scene at Michael Shorter's rental home in the coming days, but said any damage claims must go through Cleveland Housing Court.
Wade said improvements are being made in reducing the turnaround time for Request for Tenancy Approval and said additional resources are on the way to help his Landlord Outreach Coordinator give more assistance to landlords dealing with problem tenants.
“We have to find additional resources to staff it more," Wade said. "At the same time, renters need to be aware of their responsibilities as a tenant."
Meanwhile, Shorter said because of all the damage to his rental home, he will no longer accept Section 8 voucher tenants. Shorter believes even more landlords will do the same if CMHA doesn't ramp up tenant accountability in 2022. It's an even bigger issue when you consider the agency already has 28,913 applicants on its waiting list for assisted housing.
"More CMHA tenant accountability is needed, because if they don’t, the tenants are going to continue to act out like this, so that’s going to create more evictions and more homelessness," Shorter said.
“I really think CMHA needs to give some classes to teach people how to really respect a home and be better living there.”