Lansing demands repairs at southside apartment complex

City officials express ‘real frustrations’ with Rivershell Apartments

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FRIDAY, Oct. 15 — The management team at a southside apartment complex has one week to make a series of repairs to seven buildings that comprise more than 100 apartment units before city officials issue a code compliance ticket and take their safety concerns into a courtroom.

City officials late last month plastered pink tags on the doors of every building at Rivershell Apartments on Bayview Drive, noting that just about every unit across the sprawling apartment complex had twice failed rental inspections and subsequently lost their city rental certificates.

As a result, vacant units cannot be leased and the apartment management team was given until Friday, Oct. 22 to complete repairs. And if the issues linger into November, a judge could order the complex to be shuttered altogether — though the city would prefer to see it repaired instead.

“We’ve spent an awful lot of time down there,” said Brian McGrain, the city’s director of planning and economic development. “We’re in a place where we’re having some real frustrations with them. We always reserve the right to vacate buildings for real safety hazards, but we also have to have some balance. The worst thing for us would be to make a bunch of people homeless.”

A city spokeswoman said that rental certificates will be reissued only after each code compliance issue has been fixed. Still, the city doesn’t want tenants to be overly concerned.

“On large complexes, we typically would not vacate them,” a city spokeswoman clarified.

But that doesn’t mean that city officials are willing to let the issues go uncorrected forever.

City officials said Rivershell Apartments failed to make repairs that were identified in housing inspections in 2019 and 2021. Among the issues: Loose toilets, missing smoke detectors, inoperative garbage disposals and loose light fixtures. The parking lot is also filled with potholes.

Several balcony railings, window screens and gutters were also still busted this week. Trash and broken appliances were scattered throughout the complex. Some exterior walls have graffiti.

A city spokeswoman described the recent pink tags as the “last opportunity” to make repairs.

“Then a ticket will be issued and it will be up to a judge on how it proceeds from there,” she said.

McGrain added: “We’ve done our rental inspections and they haven’t complied with their letters. So, we tagged them to let tenants know that it’s not valid and up-to-date on rental compliance.”

A woman named Connie who answered the phone at the leasing office declined to comment or connect this reporter with anyone else on the Rivershell Apartments management team. Several contractors, however, were on site yesterday and today and appeared to be working on repairs.

“They got a lot of shit going on here,” one of them told City Pulse today while he inspected the gutters. “This place needs some serious work, but that’s why I’m here — to try to give it a shot.”

Some tenants, however, aren’t as hopeful that the work will be finished in a timely manner.

Dasja Parker has lived at Rivershell Apartments for about four years. She told City Pulse that smaller repairs have been routinely ignored by the management team, compounding the issue. Her top concerns: A leaky bathroom ceiling, as well as several broken lights and door fixtures.

“We had a petition going around for a while to push the management to fix up the parking lot and other things too,” added Monique Monger. “Management just doesn’t care about us.”

Monger has lived at Rivershell Apartments for about three years. She said her calls for maintenance usually face two-week delays — if they’re ever even addressed at all. It took management several weeks to replace a window in her apartment that was shattered by gunfire, she said. Another has been broken for about two months with no immediate repair in sight.

“It doesn’t help when they try to charge us for every piece of maintenance that goes wrong,” Monger added. “I’ve been here for three years and it’s always been a problem over here.”

The pink tags enable Rivershell Apartments tenants to pay their monthly rent into escrow accounts in the absence of a valid rental certificate. That could allow for some rent cash to be returned to the tenant should the repairs be left incomplete and the building is ordered vacated.

Tenants with additional questions can also call a city code enforcement officer at 517-483-6849.

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