CLEVELAND — Leaders with Cleveland's Slavic Village Development said they are extremely aware of the issues caused when problem homes or apartment buildings are allowed to easily transfer from owner to owner.
Slavic Village Development Executive Director Chris Alvarado said if Cleveland would institute "point-of-sale" inspections, like other Northeast Ohio municipalities, it would slow down the transfer of nuisance properties and would help hold the owners accountable for repairs.
“And what that also does is it sends up a warning flag to those unscrupulous property owners,” Alvarado said.
Zachariah Germaniuk, director of Neighborhood Stabilization at Slavic Village Development said his team is also using Ohio law to help neighborhoods dealing with problem properties by filing civil legal action in court.
Germaniuk said legal action has helped force improvements at these properties, or get them on the road toward being torn down.
“If we can intervene earlier in that process it would help," Germaniuk said.
“Ohio homeowners have rights, one of them is the quiet use and enjoyment of their properties.”
Amanda Riccomi has lived at the Hodge Apartments on East 74 Street for 10 years.
Riccomi and other tenants pointed to trash over-flow issues and sewage flooding at the complex and said if a property easily changes hands, it's hard for city building inspectors to enforce penalties and trigger real improvements.
“It traded hands over and over," Riccomi said.
“Now the gate doesn’t work, there’s flooding of sewage and rainwater in the parking lot into the basement, there’s mold, there’s trash.”
“We’ve been in housing court multiple times with this manager, I’ve been in housing court twice with him.”
“It’s disgusting, it’s revolting and the fact that they get away with it infuriates me.”
“The entire city is failing us, the building department, the inspectors, why do I have to go to court to have this taken care of?"
News 5 contacted building management, and it said the new owner inherited all of the chronic problems at the complex from the previous owner. Management said it will continue to be diligent in working with tenants.
It's the same type of complaints coming into News 5 concerning a vacant building at East 130 Street and Buckeye Road in Cleveland.
Buckeye Community activist Rob Render said the building has been condemned for several years, but the city has not taken any real action.
“This building has been sitting here for almost near 10 years," Render said.
“Not only is it a danger, it’s a fire hazard," he said.
In response to our story, the attorney for the building owners issued the following statement:
"Unfortunately, the neighbors are angry at the wrong owner. GIG6 LLC bought 13000 Buckeye Avenue on Aug. 2, 2019, with the property in a condemned state after two former owners had let the property deteriorate for years, with a plan to quickly refurbish it.
GIG6 LLC has fixed all exterior conditions and removed all safety hazards to the public. The City Inspector has found all outstanding code violations to be cured. GIG6 LLC has commissioned blueprints for further renovations.
All work has been performed on the fastest possible timeline. Delays in the process caused by coronavirus, the city permitting process, weather and reduced available revenue have not deterred GIG 6 LLC from carrying out its plans.
"It is a shame that several neighbors apparently do not recognize the progress that has been made or GIG6 LLC's efforts. GIG6 LLC has been, and remains committed to being a responsible owner of this property for the foreseeable future and to doing its share to revitalize the neighborhood."
The City of Cleveland issued the following statement about the status of the building:
"The building was condemned prior to the current owner obtaining title to the building."
However, there was a façade issue that the current owner was cited for, and prosecuted for. The current owner has made repairs to the façade and that violation has been satisfied.
That case is still pending in the housing court. Also, the current owner has submitted building plans to the Department of Building and Housing to bring the building out of condemnation status, in order to rehab the building.
"Our department is reviewing those plans currently as part of the application process."