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UPDATE: Details of MU Off-Campus Student Housing Inspections Released


UPDATE 6/14/14 .
HUNTINGTON -- The City of Huntington has released results of initial inspections of housing near Marshall University’s campus.

The inspections are effort to assure students have safe, quality places to live.l.

The initiative involves the city Fire Marshal’s Office, the Huntington Police Department’s Code Enforcement Unit and building inspectors in the Department of Public Works. The inspection area covers 12th to 22nd streets between 3rd and 7th avenues.

Since last week, city officials say they have inspected 61 structures consisting of 204 units. The inspections have covered fire protection systems, building, plumbing, electrical and exterior upkeep.

According to a news release, inspectorS found 32 violations ranging from improper wiring to leaking faucets to high grass.

In addition, the Fire Marshal’s Office put 18 properties on notice to update fire protection systems.

All of the violations have a time limit for corrective action. If the violations are not corrected in the time allowed, “Do Not Occupy” orders and citations will be issued.

One “Do Not Occupy” order already has been issued for THE property at 1417 5th Ave. The structure was unoccupied.

The inspections are the result of monthly meetings that Mayor Steve Williams has had with students and student groups on Marshall’s campus. During those meetings, safety of student housing was a recurring issue.

“Most landlords in Huntington take care of their properties, but we also know that some neglect their responsibilities as property owners,” Williams said. “This effort puts those landlords on notice that they must bring their rental properties up to the standards that the city and Marshall University expect. Students and their parents can take comfort in knowing that safety is our highest priority.”

City officials waited until the end of the spring semester to begin the inspections so that landlords would have ample time to correct violations before classes resume in August.



ORIGINAL STORY 6/6/14
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The city of Huntington is taking a closer look at off-campus student housing near Marshall University.

Mayor Steve Williams said the inspections come after meeting with students and Marshall administrators, and finding there are some off-campus rental units that just aren't up to code.

Williams said the inspections have already started, but they're expected to expand to the rest of the city.

"You see 'For Rent,' you see the price," Marshall student Cody Lobo said. "But then once you check them out, you're like, 'Yeah I should probably look somewhere else.' "

Lobo is studying his way to his senior year at Marshall.

He said finding an apartment can be a journey into some dark and dreary places.

"People just rent them out, and once the one tenant moves out they just kind of keep the damages and don't really fix them too well," Lobo said.

That's why the city of Huntington is stepping in.

Williams said building inspectors, fire department officials and code enforcement officers are part of the crews checking on rental units near campus.

Officials said they look at everything from electrical systems to plumbing, and even how sound the structures are.

"Some of the housing around campus is not really anywhere close to being up to par," Williams said.

He said those crews have already looked at 12 units since last week and found several major violations; he even called some of the homes "inhabitable."

That means they can't be rented.

"We're going to every one, every building around the area," Williams said.

The city waited until the summer, so students wouldn't be forced to move in the middle of studying.

"My children are going to be students somewhere ... I expect that they're going to be somewhere where it's safe," Williams said.

For students like Lobo, these inspections could make the search for next year's place a little easier.

The mayor said he expects these inspections to be completed by the end of June.

He said that's so landlords and property owners can make the appropriate fixes before the fall semester begins.

The mayor said inspectors will issue citations directly, as they complete the rental unit checks.

He also said the inspections don't come with an additional cost. The city is just focusing its efforts in that area.


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