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Council president: Cleveland will crack down on neglectful landlords

Matthew Richmond
Ideastream Public Media
Cleveland City Council President Blaine Griffin is joined by tenants and organizers outside an apartment building owned by the Manhattan-based Chetrit Group on Wednesday.

Since 2021, the tenants at 12500 Shaker Boulevard and 12701 Shaker Boulevard, buildings owned by a real estate company based in New York, have been calling for improvements to their deteriorating apartments.

According to one tenant, Chimene Anderson, at least ten apartments in one of the buildings have been without heat for two years.

“We have been in and out of that office,” said Anderson, referring to the property manager’s office in the building. “We have been lied to, deceived. All they say is, ‘Oh, it’s going to be fixed.’”

Cleveland City Council President Blaine Griffin’s ward includes Anderson’s building. At a press conference Wednesday outside 12701 Shaker Boulevard, Griffin said the city is ready to crack down on out-of-state landlords.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the time for being nice is over, the time for being cordial is over,” Griffin said.

According to a press release from city council, the buildings are owned by the Chetrit Group, a Manhattan-based real estate company facing a $481 million loan default.

The company listed as the owner of 12500 and 12701 Shaker Boulevard is Shaker Heights Apartments Owner, LLC, which council says is affiliated with the Manhattan-based real estate company, though it’s unclear who owns the LLC based on publicly available records.

Griffin and the buildings’ tenants described a series of longstanding issues, including water leaks, unaddressed water damage, plumbing and security issues.

Tenants have taken the building’s owner to housing court, but the issues remain. Griffin recommended tenants put their rent payments into escrow accounts established by the court until the owners make repairs.

Griffin said the city is working on ways to declare the buildings nuisances, “in order to try to make sure that we hold these landlords accountable and we make an example out of these landlords, that we will not tolerate this in the city of Cleveland.”

Under Cleveland’s criminal nuisance laws, the city can bill an owner for repeated police calls to a property. There are no laws allowing the city to bill for repairs.

Griffin said he’s working with the city's law and housing departments to create a civil nuisance abatement process for these and other neglected buildings in the city.

Matthew Richmond is a reporter/producer at Ideastream Public Media who focuses on criminal justice.