CHICAGO (CBS) — City building inspectors file thousands of code violations against property owners every year, ranging from safety concerns to complaints about bad workmanship, but many of those violations are ignored.
Deborah Torres is worried about her 91-year-old father, who lives next to a house with bricks falling from the wall along the gangway between the two homes.
“People are going to get hurt, because bricks are falling,” she said. “I’m just scared that something’s going to hit him. This has been going on too long.”
The homeowner was first cited by building inspectors for loose brick and mortar in 2011. The latest citation was issued in October 2018.
“I complain, complain. They come over, they look, take pictures. Nothing is done,” Frank Torres said.
CBS 2 wanted to check out how many other property owners have ignored city citations for minor code violations. According to building inspection data, there are 10,733 “open” records of violations.
A spokesman for the Buildings Department argued not all the cases are open. Some of the records just have not been updated.
Why the city doesn’t force property owners to make minor repairs is something the 2 Investigators first asked in November when we shared Nancy Rizzo’s story.
Her next-door neighbor had oversized gutters that produced buckets of water, creating thick ice on her walkway when it froze. Inspectors have issued five citations since 2015, but in both Rizzo’s and Torres’ cases, the property owners ignored every violation.
“I was upset. Why can’t someone step in and have them fix it?” Deborah Torres said.
A Buildings Department spokesman said the city code only requires notices for minor violations. So where’s the incentive for property owners to make repairs? The city said there’s no question minor complaints can be difficult to remedy.
However, since the 2 Investigators started asking questions, both cases have been upgraded from minor to worthy of an administrative hearing. It seems inspectors have now determined the oversized gutters could cause flooding, and the falling bricks are dangerous.