Tenant complaints to the City: Not all calls are documented

Published: Jun. 27, 2023 at 5:29 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Affordable housing continues to be tight in Sioux Falls.

Recently, I-Team reporter shared a story of an out-of-state landlord and management company allowing garbage to pile up.

Tenants believe it is happening as landlords know there’s no place else for them to go.

While the City is reacting to complaints, some renters allege a lack of communication has them falling through the cracks.

Living in an apartment with just a wall between you and your neighbors can be challenging.

“The lady upstairs is throwing all of her stuff over there. There’s broken glass, liquids, food. I called the police.”

Lily Anderson is wondering about possible unsafe conditions behind her apartment wall and questions what is dripping on her in the bathroom.

“All this right here is damp,” Anderson said. “I don’t know if it’s sewer water or if it’s bath water. Either way, it’s disgusting.”

“It’s soft right here. Until it happens again, I don’t have an answer for you,” said a maintenance worker.

When the City of Sioux Falls acts on a complaint and finds a violation, the owner, manager and tenant will be notified.

“Anybody that’s attached to that property is going to receive a letter 90 plus percent of the time those violations are gone,” said Dominic Miller, environmental health manager. “If they’re not, then we’ll move towards a citation process.”

But some who have filed complaints with the City are frustrated over the lack of communication or response. Maryah Tople says she complained to the City 18 times about the lack of heat from a broken boiler and no smoke detectors. She says no one followed up, and she moved out.

“I made these complaints, and it was like somebody wrote them on a piece of paper, and they got shredded, or they didn’t really care to listen, I guess,” said Tople.

And if you’re thinking your call will be logged, that may not be the case.

“Really, not every phone call that comes into our department gets logged,” said Kevin Smith, director of planning and development for the City of Sioux Falls.

So what is the protocol for documenting a complaint?

“It really depends on who took the call,” said Smith. “And did they have enough information on which address you’re calling about.”

City officials say if you want a follow-up call to your complaint, the responsibility is on you to ask for it.

City officials say they can better respond to your complaints when specific information is provided, such as your name, address and a detailed description of the problem.

There are several ways to file complaints, including the City’s website, their app, a phone call or email.