Moving through his living quarters Monday afternoon, Ty Bollerud showed off the house the city of Janesville is trying to raze.
The five tenants, Bollerud included, at 419 S. Walnut St. share a bathroom and refrigerator to save money.
Unused refrigerators and other items clutter the house and yard.
Hanging blankets and towels separate rooms.
A couple of tenants live in the unfinished basement with a dog.
Most of the tenants would have nowhere else to go if the city demolished the house, Bollerud said.
“There’d be people that’d be displaced,” he said. “I suppose they’d go to the homeless shelter.”
Bollerud appeared in Rock County Court on Monday to fight to keep his house after the city issued a raze order.
In February 2017, city officials ordered Bollerud to vacate and fix up the property. The house had several problems, including open wiring, a lack of smoke detectors, and extension cords used in place of permanent wiring, according to court documents.
In July, the city issued a raze order, which required Bollerud to present a plan on how he would fix the violations and remove debris from his yard, including cars, piles of wood and a trailer. If Bollerud didn’t make repairs, he would have to raze the building within 30 days, the order read.
On Feb. 5, the city again served Bollerud an order to vacate and correct the same issues it warned him about a year ago, according to the documents.
Bollerud showed a Gazette reporter and photographer how he keeps several bathroom and kitchen appliances running on a few electrical outlets. Exposed and capped-off wires can be seen near an electrical box in the basement.
Bollerud also pointed out a couple of smoke detectors, which the Janesville Fire Department installed after the initial order to correct, he said.
“We do have smoke alarms all over the place,” Bollerud said. “There’s nine of them in here, so I’m not quite for sure about this Feb. 5 order.”
Bollerud said the smoke detectors are evidence that he has corrected issues that don’t require a permit to fix. He said he has tried to pay the city for permits to fix electrical and other issues, but the city won’t take his money or give him a loan.
“They blocked the process of repair for whatever reason,” Bollerud said.
City Attorney Wald Klimczyk has told The Gazette it’s too late for Bollerud to fix the house because the city has sought a court order to raze it. If a judge rules against the city’s request to demolish the house, Bollerud could get permits and fix the house then, Klimczyk said.
The city gave Bollerud a year to fix his house to make sure he had more than enough time to make repairs before the city sought court permission to raze it, Klimczyk said.
In court documents, Bollerud argues that ordering tenants to vacate his house constitutes an eviction.
Judge Alan Bates said Monday the case isn’t legally an eviction and won’t proceed as one.
Bates gave the city and Bollerud until the end of May to submit arguments. He said he’ll decide whether the home will be razed by mid-June.
If there are factual inconsistencies between the city's and Bollerud’s arguments, the matter could go to trial. Bollerud asked Monday if it could be a jury trial, and Bates replied that Bollerud would have to post jury fees.