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Code violations lead to raid of Mason City rental house


This news story was published on August 28, 2016.
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Sign on the garage door

MASON CITY – A Mason City rental house with visible code violations was raided by building inspectors and police, leading to some nasty discoveries.

Mason City police tell NIT that at about 10 PM on August 24, MCPD officers assisted and stood by with city code enforcement officers at 934 8th Street NE, a house owned by Jeff and Christy Molander and contracted to Allyssa Rich and Jaime Labra. Police say the rental property had several code violations visible from the outside. A 24-hour notice had also been given for the interior rental inspection. City employees had left several prior notices but the residents would not answer the door or contact city staff in regards to the violations or prior appointments.

Once the rental inspection was underway, several rental code and health issues that are in immediate need of correction were revealed.  Police observed a bicycle that matched the description of a stolen bike as well as several freshly painted, altered, or dissembled bicycles and parts. The resident refused police to inspect one of the bicycles closer so police made the resident leave and applied for a search warrant looking for stolen property. A large pitbull-type dog was impounded by animal control because the owner was unable to prove current rabies vaccination and city license. The dog also appeared to be ravaged by fleas, bedbugs, or some other ailment. No one appeared to be treating or caring for the dog’s raw and bloody skin/coat condition. The dog was taken to the shelter to be treated and impounded. The dog cannot be reclaimed unless the owner pays for the room and board, treatment, license, vaccinations, etc.

Officers performing the search warrant wore external, protective suits due to the apparent parasite and possible sewage issues. Drug paraphernalia and some bicycles were seized during the search warrant process.

Police say this case is still under investigation and no charges have been filed at this time.

City code enforcement personnel will follow up with the landlord and residents concerning all the rental and property deficiencies, police say.

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34 Responses to Code violations lead to raid of Mason City rental house

  1. Larry Reply Report comment

    August 29, 2016 at 10:27 pm

    I hope to God they don’t get their dog back or ever get another one. Poor baby. 🙁 What scumbags.

  2. Truth Reply Report comment

    August 29, 2016 at 8:33 pm

    We have several adults on the North End who have lived in a tent all summer. The tent is in a back yard and they are “guests” of renters of a slumlord who has been appraised of the situation. The property is littered with junk. Complaints have been made to the city as well but nothing changes. Neighbors can’t wait until it snows in hopes that the guests move into the basement or the unheated garage with the leaky roof. We are prepared to submit pictures and to post an address to NIT……….. The Wall of Shame. Thank you for exposing this Matt.

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      August 31, 2016 at 9:22 am

      Planning and Zoning tried to fix the issue of people living in tents, trailers and RVs but Council refused to approve the proposed changes.

      • Anonymous Reply Report comment

        August 31, 2016 at 9:29 am

        I thought they had a ordinance about living in campers in town.

  3. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    August 29, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    308 4th Avenue S. CLear Lake.

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      August 31, 2016 at 5:35 am

      While you might think you are getting at Lagios by posting his address, you are also subjecting his neighbors to possible harassment and disturbance. So I suggest you stop for their sake. I’m not sticking up for him. I’m just thinking of his innocent neighbors. I’m sure living next to him is bad enough without strangers canvassing the area….THINK about that…thanks.

      • Jose Cuervo Reply Report comment

        August 31, 2016 at 5:58 am

        And YOU just identified publically who allegedly lives at that address. Jerk……. next time keep your good intentions to yourself.

        • Anonymous Reply Report comment

          August 31, 2016 at 6:44 am

          No one gives a shit.

          • Jose Cuervo

            August 31, 2016 at 7:32 am

            You responded.

  4. God Loves You Reply Report comment

    August 29, 2016 at 10:34 am

    It amazes me that this city spends so much time & money on building up the Frank Lloyd Wright Hotel, has a walking tour of architectural sights, LOADS of sculptures to see (we are getting way to many of them now. it is beginning to look like overkill.), put in all new light posts etc., but will have multiple locations overrun with run down houses, cluttered lawns, empty shopping centers, tons of dead trees etc, etc, etc and does nothing about them. Don’t you think tourists notice that the rest of the city is run down?! I too, think the “wall of shame” would be a good idea! Landlords accept high amounts for rent month after month, but put little, if anything, back into the properties. If complaints are received and not acted on within a certain amount of time, the city should receive 1/2 of the rent to then fix up the properties to code. This would also create jobs to clean up, fix up and improve those sites and improve the city. Neighbors should not have to endure living by these sites and having their property values decrease. it is not their fault the next door property looks terrible. Or the city could bar anyone from living there until it is fixed up. That would get immediate action from the landlords who no longer could receive rent!!! The article talked about that dog who was so abused, but nothing has been said about any children in the home. Matt, do you know if any children were living there? That is my main concern.

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      August 29, 2016 at 12:15 pm

      Not a bad idea at all. The problem is the slum lords are big city tax payers and our two faced politicians don’t want to do anything to piss them off.

      • North of the North Reply Report comment

        August 29, 2016 at 1:26 pm

        I think you are right. But….. If Mr. Big Landlord doesn’t by a piece of property and pay taxes on it then some one else will. And chances are that the person that would have bought the property would fix it and take care of it better than Mr. Big. If the property is improved it will raise its value and be taxed more. Bettering Mason City two fold. Our city leaders don’t get it.

  5. North of the North Reply Report comment

    August 29, 2016 at 8:39 am

    I have an idea that I have heard about big cities doing in blighted areas. There is a site devoted to run down properties that posts pictures of these properties and who owns them. Kind of a wall of shame. They found out that these owners just ignore the city or simply pay what ever fines are imposed. When information started going public things changed. I don’t think this should include single family home owners that can’t afford property repair but those that own two or more properties.
    I am a landlord myself and it is not an easy job. I only own as many properties as I can manage. If people can’t take care of what they have they should not keep buying more.
    See, Click, Fix does not work as well as it should. The city has policies they need to follow and a lot of these people know the loop holes to get out of maintaining their properties. It also seems as though some people get special treatment.
    On a lighter note maybe people could vote for the nicest or most improved property.
    Does any one know of a community minded website that could take this on?

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      August 29, 2016 at 8:56 am

      I disagree. I have used “See, Click, Fix” many times and have been pleased with the results. They can only take action against something that is not to code: If it is something you just disagree with but it is withing code they can do nothing. Then it becomes a issue with the council and good luck with that.

      • North of the North Reply Report comment

        August 29, 2016 at 9:38 am

        It does work well for simple code violations. The problem is that it is not a code violation to own a building that is in need of paint and is an eyesore. It is not a code violation to own a building without siding. It is not a code violation to own a building with broken out upstairs windows. It is not a code violation to own an abandoned building with boarded up windows. It is not a code violation to own a building with a leaking roof. It is not a code violation to own a building that is in a state of dilapidation as long as it has an open building permit. Permits last six months and can be renewed indefinitely. It is not a code violation to allow trees to grow around your house so bad that you cant even see the house as long as the grass is not over 12 inches tall. It is not against code to only mow your grass two times a year as long as it doesn’t get over 12 inches tall. I could go on and on. A lot depends on what neighborhood you live in and who owns the property. Oh yes. It is a code violation to park your camper in your driveway.

        • Anonymous Reply Report comment

          August 29, 2016 at 9:57 am

          They will get after people who have junk vehicles in their yard. Also, if they have trash that are drawing critters they will get after them. Generally, if you complain enough they will do something about it.

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      August 29, 2016 at 9:24 am

      “”a site devoted to run down properties that posts pictures of these properties and who owns them. Kind of a wall of shame … On a lighter note maybe people could vote for the nicest or most improved property. … Does any one know of a community minded website that could take this on?”

      A site that visualizes our different slum rentals and links them to the handful of slumlords that owns them – what a GREAT idea! Matt, what do you think? Would it be too much work for you to set up a section on northiowatoday? I’d love to submit photos of rentals on both end of the spectrum, I’m sure I’m not the only one.

  6. God Loves You Reply Report comment

    August 29, 2016 at 7:10 am

    I agree that there are A LOT of houses in town that need to be inspected by the looks of them. I also understand that workers are at a minimum to do this, unfortunately. The landlords need to be held accountable. The biggest part of these run down places are being rented. Landlords collect sizable amounts of rent each month and part of that needs to be given to the city to maintain the property if the landlord won’t keep it up. (This could also create jobs in MC). I am glad to see so much going on in MC for improvements this year like the E. Park road being paved, sidewalks being fixed, biking path being extended, 19th st being extended and new lights installed in downtown. All of this adds to the city, but I ask you, What good will it do if people come to downtown for the Frank Lloyd Wright Hotel, see the architectural places we have, enjoy the statues that are on display (& we are now getting to many!) then drive around the town and see all of the run down homes and Southport standing like a sore eye?? What impression does it give outsiders? The city needs to now leave the downtown and focus on those areas to better the whole city. My one nagging question yet Matt, if you can answer it, is was there children in that mess?? The dog was addressed, but not if children were involved. Thanks.

  7. Fed Up Reply Report comment

    August 29, 2016 at 6:20 am

    Repeated written reports to Pat Otto have gone unaddressed in my neighborhood, just off State Street near East Park. A neighbor down the street has 3 unlicensed junk cars, 2 motorcycles, a boat and a dilapidated travel camper parked in the back yard and they have not moved in 2 years. All this comes on the heals of a notice I just received that my property tax will increase. Code enforcement in this town is pathetic!

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      August 29, 2016 at 7:43 am

      Use the “See, Click, Fix” on the Mason City Web Site. It goes direct to the inspectors.

  8. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    August 29, 2016 at 4:52 am

    now lets go back to the top of the pole, Pat Otto is in charge of this department, what does she do all day?? maybe she should ride around town some and write down addresses that need some TLC. I have turned in a cpl of properties to her and whats been done about them?? if u notice nothing was written in the space before this, well that’s whats been done.

  9. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    August 28, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    So, tell me, how did the city code enforcement officers come to know about this property or how were they alerted? Do they just do random inspections or do they have neighborhood watch groups reporting these issues? Just curious, because this is NOT the only game in town going on; what prompted the raid?

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      August 28, 2016 at 6:03 pm

      Someone usually turns them in. Probably a neighbor.

    • Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

      August 28, 2016 at 6:39 pm

      I agree. Look around town – there should be about 100 or more “games” going on at slums all over town. But Eric and his city hall turn a blind eye, let the town circle the drain while their beedee little eyes focus on impossible hotels/arenas and slaughter palaces. I blame the council, too. Totally inept across the board and I’m losing faith in the only two “sane” council members we do have (you all know who they are). As for this raid, it appeared to me that this was a regular inspection to begin with and code inspectors were blocked, leading to more action.

      • Anonymous Reply Report comment

        August 29, 2016 at 7:46 am

        Agreed, these slum houses are everywhere. The is a real bad one on the corner of N. Madison and 15th st. It should be torn down and hauled away.

      • Anonymous Reply Report comment

        August 29, 2016 at 12:27 pm

        I may have clicked on the wrong item – I meant to hit REPLY…. sorry.

        Thank you for your response. We have had an ongoing issue and are unable to report due to fear of retaliation….it is a rental owned by a well-known landlord or else it is on contract ?

        So, we are stuck and have to endure the unsafe unkept junkyard/construction site. Talked to OTTO once or twice – nothing is ever done – permits keep getting renewed; but the neighborhood was never notified regarding construction! Plus, no permit is posted anywhere on the property…. ??

        • Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

          August 29, 2016 at 6:03 pm

          Send me the address of the offending property and I will be very, very happy to go by there and investigate and turn them in myself and see to it that it is straightened out. Email to: NorthIowaToday@gmail.com

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      August 28, 2016 at 8:36 pm

      If I had to guess, my money would be the people or the realtor trying to sell the house next door turned them in. Hard to sell a house with that being next door.

  10. anonymous Reply Report comment

    August 28, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    Hoarders and possible thieves?? Owners pay attention to who you rent to. Pray the dog gets cared for until well then adopted out to proper home.

  11. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    August 28, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    OMG…NEVER allow that dog to go back to these losers!!! Landlords BEWARE!

  12. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    August 28, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    They better not of had kids living there and they better not let them get there dog back

  13. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    August 28, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    I hope like he’ll they don’t get that dog back!!!

  14. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    August 28, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    I hope one of the bikes is Trevor’s that would awesome! I’m know how it feels when your bike is stolen.

  15. God Loves You Reply Report comment

    August 28, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    I sure hope no children were living there! If they can not take care of a pet, they sure can not be fit to take care of children.