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Judge denies Cedar Rapids landlord’s appeal on rental suspension of 4 nuisance properties
City says the remaining suspended property cannot be rented until landlord pays annual rental and nuisance fees
CEDAR RAPIDS — A judge has denied an appeal from a landlord whose rental unit registration was suspended by the city for four nuisance properties in southeast Cedar Rapids — upholding a city Housing Board of Appeals’ decision made last year.
Charles Davisson, who lists the four disputed properties under Property Holders LTD — along with 34 others — asserted the city violated his due process rights because he didn’t receive adequate notice of the nuisance violations, and some of the notices weren’t sent to his correct business address.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Fae Hoover, in her ruling filed last month, said the housing board didn’t take any illegal action or violate Davisson’s due process rights. The board gave him notice of the suspension proceedings and he had an opportunity to address the board on the allegations, she found.
Hoover also found that Davisson had an opportunity to work with the Safe CR program to abate the nuisances, and enforcement of the ordinances by the board didn’t illegally violate the owner’s rights. Under the city program, a property is deemed a nuisance based on the type and number of police calls for that address in accordance with nuisance and housing codes.
In May, Takesha Rogers, a tenant living in one of the suspended properties, 619 15th St. SE, filed an application to intervene in the appeal because her pending eviction was due to the property being deemed as nuisance, according to court documents. However, a few days later, she withdrew her application because Property Holders dismissed the eviction action and she moved to a new residence.
Kevin Ciabatti, director of the city’s Building Services, said the suspension is now moot because the six-month suspension period has passed. But Property Holders still owes nuisance fees on three of its properties that were not under suspension, and the annual rental registration fees haven’t been paid.
Those fees totaling $2,132 are due by Friday in order for Property Holders to be able to rent the remaining one suspended property, which is unoccupied.
Property Holders informed the city that two of the properties that were suspended would no longer be rentals and will be sold, according to letters Ciabatti shared with The Gazette this week. Property Holders sent notices to the city that 2307 Bever Ave. SE as of December and 619 15th St. SE as of May would not be rental properties, according to the letters.
Davisson cannot rent out the remaining house the was suspended at 1557 Sixth Ave. SE until he pays the fees owed because this property requires an inspection and certificate of compliance first, Ciabatti said.
The other house at 1025 20th St. SE was rented in July, when the suspension was lifted, Ciabatti said. It didn’t require an inspection.
The four properties were suspended in November because each had “chronic” enforcement issues, Amanda Grieder, public safety program manager with Safe CR, said last March. Grieder told the housing board of appeals the Bever Avenue house became a nuisance in July 2020. Davisson didn't appeal nor submit a plan to correct the violations and calls to police continued, she said. In September, a request was made to revoke or suspend Davisson’s rental unit registration.
In March, The Gazette highlighted the Bever property because neighbors were scared about gunshots being fired at their houses, pipe bombs being thrown from car windows and loud disturbances at night. Davisson’s property manager and his son lived in the rental, but they also allowed others associated with a gang, according to police, to move in. The manager moved out of the house after the board made the suspension ruling, police said.
A racial slur was spray painted on the vacant Bever Avenue house March 23, a few days after The Gazette report, and community advocates started a petition for a permanent rental ban against Davisson because of the numerous housing code violations and police calls at his properties.
Cedar Rapids public safety spokesman Greg Buelow said this week no arrests have been made in the spray painting incident.
Davisson also faces foreclosure at 12 of his properties. Sixth Judicial District Chief Judge Lars Anderson approved the foreclosures in December. Davisson owes thousands in loan debts to GreenState Credit Union, but in April he filed an appeal with the Iowa Supreme Court.
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