Lansing rental house wasn’t inspected prior to deadly fire

Owner didn’t register property with the city of Lansing
Lansing rental house wasn’t inspected prior to deadly fire
Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 5:46 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 28, 2022 at 6:14 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The house where a little boy died in a fire Monday did not have a working smoke detector as required by law.

Background: No working smoke detectors in rental home where Lansing child died

It was required by law because it is a rental property.

Lansing’s Planning Department never inspected the house because the owner of the house -- located on Cavanaugh Street -- never registered the property as a rental with the city. That’s required so the city knows which properties need to be inspected for safety on a regular basis.

“We want people to be living in a quality environment, in a safe environment,” Brian McGrain, Lansing Planning Department director.

McGrain said the city inspects rental properties every two to three years.

“Typically, we find a number of safety issues, it’s not unusual, we notify the owner, we expect those to be corrected,” he said.

The owner of the house on Cavanaugh Street didn’t pay the $640 to register the house with the city. Because of that, it wasn’t inspected. An inspection would’ve found the house didn’t have working smoke detectors.

“This is, I think, an underscore of why for rental housing we get in and we are trained to notify the landlord of these types of situations because frankly, these are life and death matters,” said McGrain.

McGrain said most landlords in Lansing follow the law, but there are some that fall through the cracks.

“We do have staff that is able to identify these, we’re not able to get to all of them,” he said.

The Lansing Housing Commission said the deadly fire highlights the country’s housing problems.

“We don’t have enough high-quality housing available for people. So some people making choices to stay in substandard housing because it’s the only option they have,” said Doug Fleming, Lansing Housing Commission director.

He said it’s unfortunate that people can’t trust their landlords to follow the law.

“Everybody needs to make sure they do their own due diligence for their own family. If your landlord is not going to do it, you need to do it.” said Fleming.

You can check rental inspections for yourself on the city of Lansing’s official website here.

If your rental isn’t on there, you should let the city know.

Many fire departments give out smoke detectors and install them for free, just contact your local fire department.

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