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Rochester landlord faces millions in accruing code violation fines

A Michigan firm that owns 16 residential rental properties in Rochester faces millions in potential code-violation fines if the state Supreme Court in Monroe County grants the penalties being sought by the city’s law department.

There are more than 260 open code violations on 10 of the properties owned by Tardis Properties LLC of Clarkson, Mich. All are managed locally by OneSeven Realty, which is named as co-defendant in the lawsuit.

Some violations date as far back as October of 2019, and scores are were first issued in 2020 or 2021. Ten of the properties don’t have a valid certificate of occupancy.

“Respondents have systematically and flagrantly ignored code enforcement efforts to remedy substantial open property code violations,” city attorney Michael Furlano wrote in the complaint. “And despite ample notice, respondents refuse to address many of the issues cited by code enforcement since it purchased these properties.”

In escalating the case to state Supreme Court, the city is seeking enforcement of the code violation fine schedule, which calls for a maximum penalty of $500 per violation per day, retroactive to date of issuance. The complaint also asks for a $500 fine for every day each property has been without a certificate of occupancy.

That means, in theory, for just one code violation issued on Nov. 1 of 2021, the accrued fine would be more than $273,000.

Previous attempts to compel Tardis Properties and OneSeven Realty to address urgent code matters have been ignored, according to papers filed with the court on May 1.

The city’s concern is that the defendants “have neither the means nor the motivation to repair their properties to a habitable standard as required by law,” the complaint says.

“This is an action of last resort. The city has engaged in extensive prelitigation administrative enforcement efforts to compel respondents to correct its violations, but respondents continue to allow the unsafe open code violations to go unabated. This action is necessitated by respondents’ willful inaction.”

OneSeven Realty, with an office address on Garson Avenue in Rochester, manages each property and is responsible for signing tenants to leases, collecting rent and making repairs or hiring contractors to do so, the complaint says.

Of the 265 code violations on the 10 properties listed in the petition, 115 pertain to the healthy and safety code.

The defendants, the lawsuit states, “have allowed their properties to deteriorate to the point where they pose an imminent threat to health and safety of its tenants and to the public at large. These properties and their unsafe conditions create a public nuisance and violate municipal and state laws enacted to protect and safeguard the public.

“They are a blight on the community and a hazard for those living inside.”

In addition to the fines, the city is asking the court to order health and safety violations corrected in 30 days, and all other violations remedied in 45 days, and for the failure to do so already be declared a public nuisance.

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