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Escrow kiosks pop up for tenants of noncompliant rental properties

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As part of the city’s effort to get rental properties up to code

Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

Earlier this year, the city started a large-scale rental compliance effort in order to get rental properties up to code. This would both ensure the safety of renters and reward good landlords. The push would move through the city by zip code, starting on the east side.

The city has started issuing tickets to landlords in 48215 that aren’t in compliance. For the renters who live in these properties, kiosks through PNC Bank are available to set up escrow accounts for rent. If the landlord complies within 90 days, the landlord gets the rent (minus $20 admin fee). If the property isn’t compliant, the tenant gets the money back (minus a $20 admin fee).

A map of kiosks is available online, and tenants can check to see if their property is compliant here. The 45 kiosks can also be used to pay water and electricity bills, property taxes, and Wayne County treasurer bills.

Out of the 40,000 rental properties in Detroit, only 8,783 are currently registered, up from 2,000 last year.

An Escrow Fair will be held this Saturday, August 18 from 10 a.m. to noon at at the Salvation Army at 3000 Conner Road to help tenants navigate the system. Tenants need copies of rental agreements, utility bills, photo IDs, plus their landlord’s name and address in order to enroll in the escrow system. Tenants can also set up accounts at the city’s Buildings, Safety, Engineering, and Environmental Department (BSEED) or online. More escrow fairs will be happening in the upcoming months.

“Our inspectors have been busy writing tickets to noncompliant landlords to encourage compliance,” said David Bell, Director of BSEED. “Now our attention is shifting to the tenants to make sure they are aware of our new rental escrow system.”

Tickets for noncompliant landlords run up to $750. Over 800 tickets have been written since the program began.