Many Florida residents may consider becoming landlords as a way to earn money quickly. However, managing a property is not as easy as one thinks. Buildings require constant maintenance. Appliances need to be replaced. Roofs need to be repaired to avoid leaks. One landlord is being fined for failing to maintain his buildings and forcing a tenant to live in unsanitary and dangerous conditions.
The man owns 36 properties throughout Wausau, Wisconsin. A tenant at one of his duplexes claims that she was exposed to issues such as exposed electrical wiring and leaking sewage. The sewage leak was so bad that the woman had to wear a bucket on her head to avoid being covered in urine. Her duplex was not outfitted with smoke detectors and the kitchen sink leaked into the basement. These issues persisted for more than a month.
The landlord would not fix these issues, and the woman feared for the safety of herself and her children, so she complained to the city. The city pursued the case and is now charging the landlord with eight code violations. His trial is set for April 17. He also faces $50,000 in fines. However, the landlord has until April 3 to accept a settlement that would reduce the fines and avoid a trial.
Property owners — including landlords — have a duty to keep their buildings safe. They must regularly maintain the premises and fix any issues immediately. Unsafe property can lead to injuries and even death. Besides the fines, the landlord could also be sued by the tenant for negligent maintenance.
Source: Wausau Daily Herald, “Landlord could face $50K in fines for hazardous conditions” Theresa Clift, Mar. 20, 2014