Sep 162010
Authors: Erin Udell

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.

“A student was living in a basement apartment and there were no real walls, it was just dirt,” said Gebo, now the chief building official. “There were dirt walls, dirt floors. It wasn’t really a room at all. It was more like a hole.”

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 city’s minimum requirements of all rental housing demands that the property’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 aren’t aware that they can report these violations, Gebo said.

“I don’t think they’re aware of these minimum standards,” Gebo said. “The majority of the issue is that these kids don’t know. They don’t know what to expect.”

The city will get involved with the landlord if the new tenant 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.

“We direct all of our tenants to our maintenance department from the very beginning, when they’re signing their lease,” 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.

“We’re here to make sure you have a healthy, safe environment to live in,” Gebo said. “It’s your right.”

An occasional reality, however, is that some renter’s don’t care about the condition of their homes, often letting them fall into disrepair.

“The worst that I have seen has really been where the place is destroyed, where they’ve punched holes in the drywall, pulled doors off their frames, broken windows and left mounds and mounds of garbage inside the property,” Lillie said. “That’s pretty rare, though. Most people will typically leave a property in fairly good condition.”

As a renter, maintaining a good relationship with the property’s management team is fairly easy, Lillie said.

“We are happy with any renter that will take care of the property and pay their rent,” Lillie said. “That’s really it. It’s not that hard.”

Staff writer Erin Udell can be reached at

Have any questions?

  • To report noise violations or any other neighborhood concerns, go to
  • To request an inspection, call Fort Collins Building Services at 970-221-6769.
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