The City of Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services (DNS) recently spoke at a meeting on the east side of Milwaukee and provided an update of the Residential Rental Inspection (RRI) program which was instituted around UW-Milwaukee area and in the Lindsey Heights neighborhood.   If you would like a refresher of what the  RRI program is all about you should read my earlier blog posts on the issue.

Much of the information set forth below was taken from the notes of Pam Frautschi, President of the Eastside Milwaukee Community Council —  Thank You Pam.

David Krey, Enforcement Manager of DNS explained that the the RRI program applies to single-family, duplexes, triplexes and other rental unit properties in the UWM area between Hackett and the river and from Edgewood to Locust.  Applicable rental properties were inspected inside and out in order to qualify for a rental certificate.  If  a rental proerty does not pass muster and obtain a rental certificate then the owner would not be allowed to rent the property to a tenant.

Inspections commenced on March 2010.  A total of 622 properties have been inspected to date in the UWM area.  Nearly 60% of the inspected properties received the 4 year rental certificate.  The properties that were disqualified intially, but which later made the necessary repairs, received a 1 year rental certificate which commences this month.

Per DNS, the inspection fees covered the project program’s espense.  Since the majority of the inspections have been completed, DNS has reduced its RRI inspectors from 4 people down to 2 people.

Comparative numbers provided by Mr. Krey were as follows:

– 72 Orders to Correct were issued for 376 violations in the UWM RRI area in 2009

– 748 Orders to Correct were issued for 4654 code violation for the same area in 2010

So far in 2011, there are 95 “open” Orders to Correct, 56 of which are in litigation.  653 have been abated.

Since the RRI project started exterior complaints dropped 50% from 98 down to 41.  Interior complaints dropped by 1/3 from 27 down to 19.

The primary zoning issue in the RRI area is “overcrowding”  – which DNS feels is from too many occupants living in illegal rental units.  Vacant properties in the area increased significantly.  Graffitti complaints decreased.  Garbage complaints increased from 129 to 193.  Anonymous complaints or other complaints made through the alderman’s office decreased by 50%.

DNS says that the RRI program increased property values and increased the quality of units rented.

During the Question and Answer portion of the meeting, Alderman Kovac, who represents the east side,  stated  that representatives from the Apartment Association that initially held strong opposition to RRI (that would be the Apartment Association of Southeastern Wisconsin or AASEW)  gave it many compliments at last week’s meeting of UWM landlords.

Blogger’s comment: I am not going to comment on any of the above statements or data presented by Mr. Grey as I do not have access to any statistics to either agree or disagree with the alleged success of the RRI program in the UWM area. 

However, with regard to Alderman Kovac’s comments that representatives of the AASEW complimented the RRI program, I do have some thoughts.  Being a member of the Board of Directors for the AASEW for the last 3 years and its current President, no board member of the AASEW has spoken to Alderman Kovac about the RRI program since before it was instituted.  I received numerous telephone calls from Members of the AASEW that own property in the UWM RRI area and not one of the comments were in favor of the RRI program.  In fact, most of the property owners that I spoke to indicated that — just as was suspected from the outset — DNS wrote up Orders to Correct for minor “ticky tack” violations rather then the major safety issues which DNS argued was the impetus for starting up the program.

I would be curious to know how many of the Orders to Correct that were issued pertained to major safety issues such as illegal attic bedrooms, faulty electrical wiring, dilapidated second-story porches etc etc.

I am also curious to learn which “representative of the Apartment Association” Alderman Kovac spoke to?