DENVER — Landlord and apartment complaints are some of the most heard messages for Contact Denver7. Now, the City of Denver is cracking down, fining unlicensed landlords and publicizing their names.
Clinton Brown is ready to move out of his apartment at 3401 North Williams Street in Denver's Cole neighborhood. He said he's tired of low service responses and safety concerns.
"I've had flooding in my roof and had to get that repaired. It took about four months to get my security door fixed. And it's difficult to talk to someone — no one's really from Denver," Brown said.
This year, the City of Denver launched an ambitious landlord licensing program to set minimum standards for properties. But some properties, like Brown's building on Williams, are still not licensed.
"We don't know if they're what people might call a slumlord or not until we see that inspection report," said Eric Escudero, a spokesman for the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses.
Escudero said the third-party inspections involve checking minimum health and safety standards.
"We're not talking about granite countertops here. We're talking about the absolute minimal living conditions. Is there running water? Is there black mold? Are there rats? Are there pests? Just basic minimal standards that every tenant should expect to have when they're paying thousands of dollars a month for rent here in Denver," he said.
Denver multi-unit rentals need new license by Jan 1, less than 1% applied
Escudero reports that nearly 10,000 properties have been licensed, but the city is now citing multi-unit properties that are not.
"We started with landlords we knew who had previous public health complaints because that's the goal of this program overall is to make Denver safer, especially when it comes to tenants having minimal housing standards in the places they're renting," said Escudero.
The city first issues warnings to landlords. So far, 1,611 notice of violation warning letters have been sent, according to the city.
Following a warning is a citation. The city cited 193 multi-unit properties, issuing a first fine of $150. A second fine of $500 has been sent to 31 properties.
Only three properties have receive a third fine of $999, including the building where Brown lives on N. Williams Street. The city has issued two $999 fines to the property, which remains unlicensed.
Contact Denver7 reached out to the listed property owner, Jonathan Schwartz, who would not answer our questions.
Brown and property listingsstate Acute Property Management oversees the building. According to a state press release, Acute Property Management is affiliated with Shell Company, LLC, which had its real estate license suspended in 2019, citing "dishonest dealing."
Escudero said that landlords who do not pay fines after 45 days could be sent to a collection agency, which could negatively impact their credit.
"I'm glad some people are starting to get held responsible a bit," said Brown, who is moving out in two weeks. "Clearly, there's some upkeep issues that can be done. I hope the city jumps on this a little bit more."
Contact Denver7 reached out to the two other landlords who have been issued $999 fines — NK Sharma and Yolande Brower.
According to the city, Sharma has four unlicensed properties — 2200 E 47th Ave., 2820-2824 Williams Street, 4678 N. Gaylord Street and 3657 Williams Street. Sharma said he did not realize that all of his properties needed to be licensed, and is planning to do it now.
Brower owns two unlicensed multi-unit properties in Denver — 3547 North Columbine Street and 3314 East Bruce Randolph. They did not respond to our request for comment.
If you want to know if your landlord's property is licensed, you can search the address through the city's database.
Editor's note: Denver7 seeks out audience tips and feedback to help people in need, resolve problems and hold the powerful accountable. If you know of a community need we can address or have a story idea for our consumer investigates team to pursue, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or or call (303) 832-7777. Find more Contact Denver7 stories here. You can also use the form below to request help from Jaclyn Allen and the Contact Denver7 Team.