Mike Gebo has seen some crazy things in his 24 years as a building inspector in Fort Collins but the worst came about five years ago in the form of an uninhabitable basement apartment.
â€œA student was living in a basement apartment and there were no real walls, it was just dirt,â€ said Gebo, now the chief building official. â€œThere were dirt walls, dirt floors. It wasnâ€™t really a room at all. It was more like a hole.â€
While this was an example of an extreme and rare case, it highlights the realities of living in a rental property.
Building violations are classified into four categories: substandard, unlawful, unfit for occupancy and dangerous.
Substandard violations, which include items of general maintenance, are the most common, especially in the older homes near campus, Gebo said.
The cityâ€™s minimum requirements of all rental housing demands that the propertyâ€™s exterior and interior are in good repair, as well as have a window for natural light and ventilation. These are just among about 50 requirements and standards rental homes must meet.
Some students arenâ€™t aware that they can report these violations, Gebo said.
â€œI donâ€™t think theyâ€™re aware of these minimum standards,â€ Gebo said. â€œThe majority of the issue is that these kids donâ€™t know. They donâ€™t know what to expect.â€
The city will get involved with the landlord if the new tenantÂ is expected to move into a trashed or unhealthy unit, he added.
Many property management companies in Fort Collins have maintenance departments dedicated to repairing rental units.
â€œWe direct all of our tenants to our maintenance department from the very beginning, when theyâ€™re signing their lease,â€ said Paul Lillie, the owner of All Property Services Inc.
For renters whose landlords ignore their pleas for repairs, Gebo stresses the importance of reporting these violations.
â€œWeâ€™re here to make sure you have a healthy, safe environment to live in,â€ Gebo said. â€œItâ€™s your right.â€
An occasional reality, however, is that some renterâ€™s donâ€™t care about the condition of their homes, often letting them fall into disrepair.
â€œThe worst that I have seen has really been where the place is destroyed, where theyâ€™ve punched holes in the drywall, pulled doors off their frames, broken windows and left mounds and mounds of garbage inside the property,â€ Lillie said. â€œThatâ€™s pretty rare, though. Most people will typically leave a property in fairly good condition.â€
As a renter, maintaining a good relationship with the propertyâ€™s management team is fairly easy, Lillie said.
â€œWe are happy with any renter that will take care of the property and pay their rent,â€ Lillie said. â€œThatâ€™s really it. Itâ€™s not that hard.â€
Staff writer Erin Udell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have any questions?
- To report noise violations or any other neighborhood concerns, go to http://fcgov.com/nuisance.
- To request an inspection, call Fort Collins Building Services at 970-221-6769.