Houston's biggest landlord responsible for neighborhood problems

HOUSTON – The single largest owner of single family homes in Houston is responsible for problems in neighborhoods across the city and is causing a drain on public resources and taxpayer dollars, according to Houston's city attorney.

Richard Lee Pfirman, 57, owns 361 properties in Harris County, according to the Harris County Appraisal District. 

"The great percentage of people in this city are law abiding citizens but we have a few like Mr. Pfirman who are not," said Houston City Attorney David Feldman.

Pfirman has been sued separately by Homeowners' Associations, tenants and the City of Houston to bring some of his properties up to code.

In one such civil lawsuit, a tenant claimed she rented a home, paying first and last month's rent, only to find the house had no electrical wiring.

Last December, a judge ordered Pfirman to fix or raze 14 properties deemed well below health and safety standards, following a civil lawsuit filed by the City.

Pfirman contended in a short on-camera interview he is working on complying with the judge's order, he has demolished three houses, and sold another, leaving ten.

The City then reached another agreement with Pfirman that imposed stiffer penalties if the remaining properties are not fixed and demolished by early next year.

Pfirman's residences, some of which are rented, some of which are vacant, span the city with heavier concentrations on Houston's north side.

Feldman contends Pfirman has cost the City dearly in manpower and time with a team of inspectors monitoring code violations.
Local 2 Investigates found 520 active violations associated with Pfirman's properties.

The problems range from "weeds and rubbish" to  "unsecured buildings" to "buckling structures, damaged by explosion or fire" according to the list Local 2 examined.