Brothers Used W. Baltimore Vacant Home to House Pit Bulls

You probably remember the sad tale of poor Phoenix, the pit bull that suffered 3rd degree burns at the hands of two Baltimore teens.  What you may not know is that the two boys, twin brothers Tremayne and Travers Johnson, housed their pit bulls in a vacant West Baltimore rowhome:  1616 N. Gilmor Street (Baltimore City Council District 7).  The house is owned by Olivia Anderson of the same address.

The incident with Phoenix further illustrates the need for the city to clean up its act with regard to vacant property.  According to ASA Jennifer Rallo, the police found signs of dogs and gang activity at the Gilmor Street house —  another result of Broken Window Syndrome.  Hopefully this case will not only serve as a warning to those who abuse animals, it will serve as a warning to the city.  Allowing homes to remain vacant and unsecured is simply another link in the chain of criminal behavior that keeps Baltimore City in its third-class city status.  If we are to ever become a first-rate city, we have to tackle the problem of housing, with sustainable and well thought-out methods.

18 comments

  1. PPNA Matt

    It’s vacant, yet SDAT shows the house as being owner-occupied. Will someone at SDAT please hire me???!!! I promise you that the salary that you pay me will be more than offset by all of the extra revenue that I collect.

    • slumlordwatch

      I think they should hire you, too. And more housing inspectors. Oh and since we’re indulging ourselves in Fantasy World, I’d like to see slumlords actually punished for their misdeeds. Jail and having to live in their sub-standard homes would work for me!

      • PPNA Matt

        Well, the city has hired more trash inspectors in conjunction with the “One Plus One” trash collection program. And guess what? The city has discovered that they can make money by citing sanitation violations. You would think that they could use this same business model when going after vacant and blighted properties.

      • slumlordwatch

        Did you see that they’ve suspended the trash inspections/tickets? It’s to give people time to get used to the new system. In no other city would the government have to educate people about trash. Except perhaps in the developing world, which last I checked, we didn’t live in. I guess I was wrong about that?

        Also, there’s a piece of legislation before the city council that would institute a “warning system” for construction violations. Instead of being handed a ticket and fined (it’s not like they ever have to pay the fines, mind you, because the city does such a poor job of collecting) — they would get a warning first, and then a ticket and fine. For God’s sake — Baltimore City’s building code is ONLINE and easily accessible — if you’re unable to read or understand it, perhaps you shouldn’t be working on houses! I hope the city council comes to its collective senses on this one, but I’m not holding my breath.

      • PPNA Matt

        Actually, they’ve done away with the suspension. They’re actually fining out the wazoo in my neighborhood. I know this because people have been complaining on our listserv about getting a ticket for hanging their trash bags on the fence on trash collection days. Also, the DPW official in charge of sanitation confirmed with us that they are indeed issuing fines.

        Do you know which councilman issued the “warning system” bill? Please tell me that it wasn’t Jim Kraft.

      • slumlordwatch

        This was in the 11/4 City Paper:

        ” Bill 09-0416–Environmental and Civil Citations–Notice Requirements. This would repeal the provision in the law that allows Environmental Control Board citations to be issued without prior notice.

        The Read: The Environmental Control Board, among its other duties, trains the city inspectors who issue what we commonly call “trash tickets,” and serves as a sort of court to handle those cases. It also handles zoning and building violations. Councilwoman Rochelle “Rikki” Spector (D-5th District) says her bill is narrowly focused on zoning- and building-violation cases that otherwise require a warning–or did before the board was established in 1998. “My bill is to go back to that–a warning needs to be issued for zoning violations and construction,” she says. “My experience was for certain areas of the city, people had no idea they could get a violation without a warning.” You can still get trash tickets without warning, although the city has put a stop to them for six months or so to give people a chance to get used to the “One Plus One” trash and recycling system. ”

        And no, it wasn’t Jim Kraft….this time.

  2. D. Abbott

    The extreme danger both residents and visitors face in Baltimore City with crime. Calls for extreme measures to regain control,just as if it was a city in Bagdad. First off put a 7.00pm till7.00am curfew for anyone under the age of eighteen unless they have speacial reason like school or work . Put the Maryland National Guard on the streets to patrol and enforce the curfew as well as restore order. Remove Sheila Dixon from office and appoint a hardline Federal interim Mayor or Military Official .Give the city council members one week to come up with plans and solutions to their own particular districts crime probloms. Assemble a group of Maryland’s not just city residents as a special committee to review current inmate status and releace those who are currently serving time for non violent or victimless crimes to make room for those who will be coming in.Instruct the police ,National Guard and Fugitive Task Force. Their priority will be apprehending violent offenders, gang members,major drug King pins street thugs and the parents who allow their children to violate the curfew. When the city is once again a safe and respectable place to live or visit then and only then do we slowly roll back and return to more traditional ways of Governing.

    • slumlordwatch

      While I am not usually in favor of martial law, I can definitely see how this would possibly work in Baltimore. (A very sad commentary on our city, most definitely.) The unfortunate reality, however, is that any serious crime-fighting measures will never be implemented here — most residents seem to be very happy with the status quo, and this is reflected in their voting.

  3. LeeLynn

    I went to Lee College in Cleveland TN.
    I have also lived in Chattanooga TN and Raleigh, North Carolina.
    The slumlord situation is out of control. Tenants used to be able to assert their rights for essential services.
    These days, it’s nearly impossible for tenants to be heard.
    State and Federal laws are ignored and landlords are not worried about getting in trouble.
    Some own so much of the property in towns that if you move you ACCIDENTALLY END UP IN ANOTHER Of THEIR RENTALS! (using their moving company, no less.)
    This happened to a roomate of mine who moved from our house into a development/apt complex, wound up with the same problems, and found out it was the same owner!
    Cleveland and Chattanooga are also filled with blight, hookers, and escort services. I guess it’s all connected, isn’t it?
    Cleveland should start a website like this.
    It’s a nice town. You’d think with all those churches it’d be cleaner and criminals wouldn’t be allowed to roam free and wild. Church of God has it’s headquarters there!
    Everyone blames illegal Mexicans but it’s the couple landlords that rent to the illegal immigrants who are committing crimes and ruining their own town, right?

    • slumlordwatch

      LeeLynn, it’s a problem here in Baltimore, too. Some of the slumlords own so many properties it’s hard for a tenant to get away. In Maryland, you can go online to see who owns a property — the problem is that the slumlords create shell LLC corporations to purchase their properties. Unless you know the names of all the companies, you’re screwed.

      • Hannah

        You can find out the shell companies, and you should!!
        Go to Peoplefinders.com and do a criminal search on your slumlords name. It’ll come up with his alias’s. Peoplefinders will allow you to search many things free: phone numbers, addresses, business information, and social profiles.
        Doublecheck the info to make sure it’s accurate. Reverse search your info on http://www.whitepages.com.
        Then, go to your state website (ie. tn.gov or ga.gov) and do a business information search and a license search for all related businesses connected to your slumlord. If your slumlord is not holding a valid license to do business, alert your state authorities.
        Additionally, you can look up the tax guide written for landlords. In general, slumlords tend to violate all of the tax laws. The IRS doesn’t like that, and the IRS is tenacious as a pit bull. Download the proper forms and send the IRS a clear, concise expose on your slumlord.
        The landlord is required, BY LAW, to not only try to obtain tenants but to KEEP them, as well. This is not a consumer protection law, which isn’t enforced, anyway, but a “we want our money” law made up by the government. For the government. Even if it doesn’t directly get you your money back ,you at least know 1. you’re helping fix the blight in your town and 2. Audits suck out loud.
        Slumlords claim all sorts of deductions they aren’t entitled to, like expenses for repairs they never made. If an auditor sees the slumhouse supposedly repaired and verified, with fake receipts, that’s forgery and perjury.
        You don’t have to live in the building to report the slumlord for tax violations.
        Your slumlord may be able to pay off the cops, even the codes inspectors, maybe the occasional judge, but the IRS?
        Slumlords commit OSHA violations when their “independant contractor’s” don’t correctly make repairs where lead paint and old insulation is involved and they endanger themselves and others. Incidentally, the IRS has strict guidelines for independent contracting.
        EPA has an interest in who isn’t giving proper notification regarding a possibility of lead paint (all houses built prior to, maybe, 1979, may have it and you must be notified of the possibility.)
        Report as many of your slumlords properties as you can unearth.
        As a public service, I implore you to create a “google map” for your particular slumlord and link it to everyone else’s who has done the same. Before long, the smooth talking, lying, swindling, slumbags won’t be able to lie to us or cheat us out of our hard earned money any more.
        How frustrating to be forced out of a rental only to unwittingly end up in another rental owned by the same swindlers! And be out both deposits-you KNOW you aren’t going to see that money again, law be damned.
        I think it’s very interesting that the mortgage fraudsters often include not only slumlords but prominent members of the community as well. Realtors, lawyers, brokers, title companies, and lenders along with politians…last count was over a thousand arrested nationwide (this month!) in the FBI “Stolen Dreams” operation.
        They are going after the white color criminals, finally. Organized crime and white collar crime appear to be one and the same.

      • slumlordwatch

        In Maryland you can actually search state databases to find this info. It’s one of the few advantages to living in Maryland.

  4. baltimoregal

    Will actions/charges be brought against this Olivia Anderson for not maintaining her property? It is her responsibility as homeowner to make sure these activities don’t happen. In my mind at least, she is an accessory.

    • slumlordwatch

      That’s a really good question — and I have to agree with you. I might nose around and see if anyone would be willing to comment publicly.

  5. baltimoregal

    Thanks. This battle should be fought on all sides and as an advocate for pit bulls I have a particular interest in seeing how this turns out.

    Since the press, and the public, has paid a lot of attention to this issue, I would think the govt. and police should as well.

  6. Pingback: Teens Who Kept Dogs in Vacant Home Go to Trial | Housing Policy Watch

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