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Columbus property owners bear responsibility for repairs to prevent collapses

 The back of a building East Long Street collapsed on Monday, July 17.
Columbus Division of Fire
The back of a building East Long Street collapsed on Monday, July 17.

The collapse of a 102-year-old building at 1032 East Long Street on Monday raises many questions about whether the city has any responsibility when an old building falls.

Property owners in Columbus are responsible for inspections of their buildings and other structures and paying for necessary repairs.

“The city of Columbus does not have an inspection program,” said Tony Celebrezze, Deputy Director of Building and Zoning Services Department for the City of Columbus. “That does not fall under our jurisdiction as this is private property.”

Celebrezze said property owners need to regularly inspect buildings and hire experts to do the work when necessary.

“If they feel there are issues with their building, whether water has been getting in there, whether there are cracks, new cracks in the wall that are occurring or shifting, they need to reach out to a structural engineer that specializes in investigating what may be causing those cracks,” said Celebrezze.

The Franklin County Auditor’s website shows that the three-story property at 1032 East Long Street belongs to Jafar Almahamid. He purchased it in 2016 for $90,500.

“That building has not had a building permit issued or applied for in the last 10 years,” said Celebrezze. “We have had no reason to engage that owner from a building standpoint.”

Celebrezze said his department does respond to residents’ complaints such as bricks falling from a façade.

He also said the city’s Code Enforcement Department had received complaints of minor violations at the 1032 East Long Street property, including trash, high weeds, and cars parking in unusual places.

WOSU reached out to Almahamid but did not receive a call back.

Debbie Holmes has worked at WOSU News since 2009. She has hosted All Things Considered, since May 2021. Prior to that she was the host of Morning Edition and a reporter.