Council member Lou Ann Crowley wasn’t thrilled when a tenant living in her basement apartment filed a complaint against the unit—no egress window in the bedroom—with the building inspection office. And she hadn’t been thrilled with the rottweiler she’d seen running around her property. Or the patches of yellow snow. As for the complaint, Crowley understood that her rental unit, built in the 1950s, was “grandfathered in” as far as current building codes were concerned.
Stephen Hutchings, with building inspection, reviews complaints. The most common misconception of landlords and landladies, says Hutchings, is that their older rental unit is “grandfathered in” to more recent building codes. As of late, the number of complaints floating into his office has spiked—a spike that is unusual at this time of year. Typically, complaints pile up at the end of the school year, when tenants use a building code violation as leverage to break a lease. “Quite often,” says Hutchings, “we’re used as the rope in the tug-o-war.”
Hutchings isn’t sure why the number of complaints has risen recently. He was surprised when the complaint against Crowley came across his desk. He sent out an inspector, as per usual, and sent Crowley a letter outlining the problems that needed to be addressed.
Crowley is not only rectifying the code violations, she is also more than happy to show the apartment. She slips off her shoes before stepping onto the carpet. She points out the new stove. And the window that will soon be extended to allow egress. The tenant, who says she felt unsafe from the very beginning but felt rushed to rent any apartment, was evicted.
Some complaints file in from those who are unfortunate enough to rent from a local slumlord. Others file in because well-intentioned landlords or landladies are hanging onto the idea that their rental unit is “grandfathered in.” Following up on any complaint takes hours—Hutchings wants people to know that the grandfather clause pertains to zoning—not to building codes.
“Sooner or later, grandpa has to leave,” says Hutchings. “You can’t grandfather safety issues.”
National security threats seem to be rattling the Big Sky state—your beloved Glacier National Park is in dire straits for sure. Its borders are allegedly threatened (see “Osama-watch at Glacier N.P.,” pg. 7). We can be thankful that park authorities, patrolling the border along Canada, must be thwarting terrorists’ attempts to enter the U.S. Bomb-strapped mountaineers are so intimidated they’ve failed to show their faces at all. Now, according to the UK’s The Observer, a report recently leaked from the Pentagon discloses that the most recent and greatest threat to national security is not terrorism—it’s climate change. Here’s what’s reportedly likely to happen: As soon as the Earth is all good and hot, as soon as the very last glacier recedes into a hairline fracture, third-world countries will either be drowning in water or parched from drought. While the world dissolves into complete anarchy warring over water and food, the U.S. and the E.U. are expected to escape relatively unscathed. Because, you can also be thankful, this country has the infrastructure and resources to withstand such drastic climate change. Just gotta keep those whining immigrants from beating down the border patrol. Luckily, the Bush administration has not only poured an unprecedented amount of money into the Department of Defense, it’s also established a Department of Homeland Security. As we suspected all along, Kyoto is for the birds—not for the U.S. We expect guns to be trained on glaciers in a matter of minutes.