In the midst of chronicling the downfall of Paul Koenig and the vast empires of slumminess run by the likes of Khan and Moghul, some NoMi residents suggested that John Hoff and I take a look at a landlord by the name of Paul Bertelson (who also owns properties under a quasi-religious entity called Mission Inn Incorporated, and sits on the board of an organization called YouthWorks, whose website boasts of previous involvement with Urban Homeworks). Bertelson at the time owned maybe two dozen properties that we knew of, and I drove around to examine the exteriors. They didn't seem to rise to the same level of blight as other problem landlords, so blogging efforts were focused elsewhere. (Although Bertelson did get "Jerk du Jour" honors over on Irving Inquisition)
Not long after that, we'd heard of tenants at a Bertelson property on the block who had serious problems with the electrical systems and other basic aspects of a house that you'd think would be up to snuff if there were a rental license. Neighbors called the city and county and were assured that the issues would be addressed. To his credit, Bertlelson even came to a few block club meetings in south Hawthorne this summer. (Simply showing up to a meeting doesn't grant slumlords neighborhood or blogging immunity; just ask Mahmood Khan and McKinley. But it's a step above Stephen Meldahl, that's for sure.)
Bertelson put on a good show for the Hawthornites, and people seemed somewhat satisfied with--although wary of--his responses to our concerns. After seeing the interior of this house, a property once owned by Bertelson or his LLC and now lost to foreclosure, it may be time to rethink that stance. Upon entering the house, one immediately sees...
|Is that what I think it is? Yes indeed. A closed-off front porch.|
The house had been trashed, with the washer, dryer, stove, and refrigerator all missing, as well as probably a fair amount of copper pipes based on the holes in the walls. Then again, there was this hole too:
|The laundry vent hole goes through three different walls. Nice.|
Now, even though the house had a valid rental license on it until the foreclosure, it's of course unclear whether the damage shown here was done before or after the rental license was granted, whether it was done by angry problem tenants, copper thieves, or the owner. What is clear though, is that the light switch and electrical sockets like the one below are not up to anything resembling code.
You don't have squatters or copper thieves stealing covers to electrical sockets or breaking in to poorly install light switches. No, this most likely happened when Bertelson still owned the house AND a rental license was granted in spite of the dilapidated state of the place. And across the street is another Bertelson property with a litany of neighborhood complaints against it. (Care to guess who owns its neighbor? Meldahl. What a block.) Here's what things looked like out back:
|Someone attempted to toss shoes over the power lines. Despite how low the lines were, they STILL couldn't connect, and the Elite Shoe Patrol Unit wasn't needed.|