Channel 2 investigates Houston landlord with history of complaints

Years later, records show Pfirman still has complaints on some properties

By Joel Eisenbaum - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - The landlord who owns more single-family homes than any other individual in Houston still has open-code enforcement complaints on some of his properties, two years after settling a lawsuit with the city over the matter, records reveal.

In 2016, Richard L. Pfirman agreed to keep 51 of his 340 Harris County properties, in compliance with city code in regard to appearance and safe building standards.

Below is a map of all of Pfirman's Houston properties.

Read 2013 report: Houston's biggest landlord responsible for neighborhood problems

“I am familiar with Mr. Pfirman's reputation with 200-300 properties with violations,” said TaKasha Francis, director of Houston’s Department of Neighborhoods.

Francis said that since the lawsuit, she has found Pfirman to be responsive to code violations.

But Channel 2 Investigates found some of the properties are still in dire shape.

A review of code enforcement records reveals that seven of the properties have been flagged by the city as substandard and have unresolved code compliance cases.

Channel 2 Investigates also found other Pfirman properties, not part of the lawsuit, do not appear to meet city code, including properties that are overgrown and wide open.

Pfirman declined KPRC 2’s interview request, but an employee who identified himself as Felipe said that maintaining the properties in high-crime areas is a tall task.

“You put $5,000 (of) new equipment into this home, cut the light off (at) night, board it up, go home and come in the following night, and they took everything out of it,” Felipe said.

Filing a complaint

For city of Houston residents, filing a code compliance complaint is easy.

“Call 311, that’s the easiest,” Francis said.

Francis said that even with stretched resources (77 code compliance inspectors in a city of 2.3 million people), her team can usually check out a property within 72 hours of the initial complaint.

Still not satisfied? Contact Channel 2 Investigates by email.

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Inside Click2Houston: (PDFs)

Pfirman properties included in lawsuit

Final judgment and injunction

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