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Simtob Management reaches settlement over Lansing housing suit

facade of Lansing City Hall building
Emma Winowiecki
Michigan Radio

A property management company has reached a settlement with the city of Lansing following a lawsuit for housing code violations.

Lansingtook Simtob Management to court earlier this year after all 29 units in one of the company’s apartment buildings were red-tagged due to unsafe living conditions. That forced many families out of their homes.

The lawsuit aimed to get the company to pay for hoteling for its displaced tenants and commit to bringing its properties into compliance.

As part of the settlement, Simtob has agreed to pay for temporary housing and reimburse the city for the months it provided accommodations to renters. The company also agreed to repair its properties to comply with the housing code within the next few months.

Jordan Hankwitz directs Lansing’s Department of Economic Development and Planning. He says tenants can move back into their homes once the property issues are fixed.

"Our ideal scenario is that they're able to be in compliance on their properties, we're able to inspect and we're able to lift the tags, and then we can all move on productively,” Hankwitz said.

Hankwitz says the city can take Simtob back to court if it doesn’t follow through with the agreement.

The settlement represents one way Lansing officials say they're making progress on addressing the city’s red-tagged housing crisis.

At the beginning of this month, the city had 672 properties deemed uninhabitable and red-tagged. That means nearly 40 properties have been taken off the red tag list since February.

Hankwitz joined the city two months ago. He says his priority has been to understand the different circumstances that have caused properties to become unsafe for residents. He said each property "has a unique story" and the red tags present a challenge to the city's housing stock.

He says he's especially focused on addressing blighted properties and units that have been red-tagged for a long time. One property has been red-tagged since 2003, and nearly two dozen have been tagged for more than a decade.

“We can say that it's not reasonable for a home to be on that list for 20 years," Hankwitz said. "It does bad things to the community. And as far as property values, as far as morale, as far as blight, as far as the potential for crime in vacant buildings, we want to see all of those things shored up.”

Arjun Thakkar is WKAR's politics and civics reporter.
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