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New data show Detroit has 40,000 landlords and most of them are locals

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Housing officials in Detroit say new information about the city's landlords will help them set priorities.

The data shows Detroit has more than 40,000 landlords and a majority of them live within the city.

70% of those landlords in Detroit own one or two properties, mostly single family homes, according the report.

The report was published by Detroit Future City with help from Data Driven Detroit and the city’s Housing and Revitalization Department.

Dan Austin is with Detroit’s Housing and Planning departments.

"The city has become a predominantly majority renters city. Not having had data has really hindered the city's ability to affect change where it is needed most and to create programs that help those who need the help most," Austin said.

He says the point of this report is to bring the city's housing stock, most of which is aging, up to a safe standard.

Part of that safe standard will include testing for lead. The report said that 90% of Detroit's housing was build before 1980. Lead paint wasn't banned until 1978 so the report said 85% of housing units built before 1940 contain lead-based paint.

"In 2020, 5.6% of Detroit children tested had an elevated blood-lead level. This is more than twice
the rate for the entire state of Michigan (2.4%)," the report said.

Keegan Mahoney, Program Director, City of Detroit Housing & Revitalization Department, said that this report will help the city design policies that can be used to improve how the city interacts with landlords and rental properties in the city.

“By better understanding Detroit's rental landscape, we can work with our sister departments, City Council, landlords, and others to bring rental properties into compliance," said Buildings, Safety Engineering, and Environmental Department Director David Bell about the report.

Certificates of Compliance
This year: 7,543
2021: 5,929
2020: 4,346
2019: 3,753

Edward Lynch wrote the report.

"What we hope comes from here is a set of policies that work to improve the condition of housing in the city, both for tenants so that they can have high quality lead safe housing, but also policies that work for landlords, so that they can be brought into the system and have the support that they need to bring their existing housing up to that high quality, safe standard that we believe everyone should have," he said.

Here are some takeaways from the report:

  • 60% of landlords have a Detroit address, 87% have a Michigan address
  • There are 42,191 landlords in Detroit
  • There are 137,346 estimated rental units
  • 27% of Detroit’s occupied rental property has a value of less than $10,000
  • 70% of landlords in the city own one or two properties, mostly single family homes
  • Majority of Detroit rent and utilities is below $900 a month
  • ⅓ of landlords own 5 or more properties
Briana Rice is Michigan Public's criminal justice reporter. She's focused on what Detroiters need to feel safe and whether they're getting it.