DNS Impact Statement
The City of Milwaukee regularly responds to complaints and conducts code enforcement inspections on its own initiative. Notice is provided to the owner as well as a reasonable period of time to comply where violations are observed. Every reasonable attempt is made to resolve the problem through voluntary compliance by working with the owner to bring the property up to an acceptable level of repair. In cases where the owner either refuses or fails to correct the violation, a municipal court action can be brought against the owner.
The fines can range from $150 to $10,000.
The community surrounding the property can become quite frustrated by a property owner's failure to make timely repairs. Often these other property owners have put a great deal of effort into maintaining their property and are adversely affected by the failure of the offending property owner to comply with the code. Once the department has issued correction orders and has referred the matter to the City Attorney's office for prosecution, there is little more that it can do until trial. However, the community can have an impact through the filing of a neighborhood impact statement. While an impact statement can be filed by an individual, its effect is much greater if it comes from a block club or a larger organization.
HOW IT IS USED
People who have been affected while living, working or have been owning property near a neglected or deteriorated property may use the neighborhood impact statement to let the court know how the code violations have impaired their neighborhood, property value or quality of life. The impact statement is used as a vehicle for the community's voice to be heard at sentencing.
The statement is a clear, factual letter that describes the property in question and how the owner's failure to comply with the code has impacted the lives and property of others in the community. It is sent to the Commissioner of Neighborhood Services who will include it in the prosecution file. It is used only during the sentencing phase of a code enforcement case. The City Attorney's office will then have it available to present to the judge at the appropriate time in the case. The statement is just one of a number of pieces of information that will help a judge arrive at a fair sentence. Please be aware that it is not used in the determination of guilt! It will also not guarantee that the sentence that you feel is appropriate is the one that the judge arrives at in any given case.
Below is a sample, hypothetical neighborhood impact statement. Please note that it is direct, factual and does not contain emotional statements. It also relates to the facts of the case and not to extraneous matters. Statements such as "the tenants make a lot of noise and throw junk around" are not useful in a case where the code violation is for failure to paint the trim and repair the gutters.
If you have information as to specific damages that have been incurred, please provide details. For example, "I have spent $300 on fumigation and extermination over the last year due to roaches coming from next door." Examples of other relevant statements include "I cannot get fire insurance because of the boarded and vacant property next door to me" or "my realtor tells me that the reason that I have been unable to sell the property is because of the extremely deteriorated condition of the house next to mine." Keep it truthful and factual.
Don't cry wolf! Keep the document to one page. Provide any details on how and when you have previously asked the owner to comply with the code if you have such details. Save your use of the neighborhood impact statement for the most appropriate cases. Be sure that the statement is signed and dated. If you have any questions concerning the neighborhood impact statement process, contact the district code enforcement inspector at 286-3646.
Thank you for your assistance in improving Milwaukee's neighborhoods.
Go to SAMPLE IMPACT STATEMENT
Often landlords can avoid complaints by keeping illegal activity out of their property. The department offers FREE training on a regular basis to those owning or managing property. See the LANDLORD TENANT TRAINING program for more information.